Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a disease associated with metabolic syndromes such as diabetes and obesity, regardless of alcohol consumption, and refers to the accumulation of triacylglycerols in the liver. Thymol (THY) is a vegetable essential oil that is naturally contained in the Zingiberaceae and Lamiaceae families. THY was isolated from Curcuma longa
L. The rhizomes of Curcuma longa
L. were dried, sliced and extracted with 50% ethanol and then isolated through repeated column chromatography. This study was conducted to investigate the inhibitory effect of THY, even in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, in relation to the inhibiting hyperlipidemia effect of THY, which was demonstrated in previous studies. Hepatocytes were treated with oleate (OA) containing THY to observe lipid accumulation by Oil Red O staining (ORO). We also tested the effect of THY on triacylglycerols (TG) and total cholesterol (TC) in HepG2 cells. Western blot and real-time RT-PCR using sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c), fatty acid synthase (FAS), acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP), proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ), and adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase (AMPK) expressions were carried out. Consequently, inhibition of lipogenesis by THY (100 μM or 200 μM) in NAFLD treated with OA in HepG2 cells was confirmed. The results of TG and TC experiments confirmed a decrease in the degree of fat accumulation in the liver. Furthermore, inhibition of the SREBP-1c, FAS, ACC, C/EBP and PPARγ expressions that mediated fat accumulation and increased AMPK phosphorylation was observed. Taken together, THY is proposed as a potential natural constituent for the treatment of NAFLD.
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