INTRODUCTION: Hypercholesterolemia is a serious health concern throughout the world. It is the key risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The aim of this study was to investigate the antihypercholesterolemic potential of fraxetin on hypercholesterolemic rats given a high-fat diet (HFD).
METHODS: A total of 24 male albino Wistar rats weighing 180-200 g were used in this study and were divided into 4 groups: Control (Group 1), hypercholesterolemia-induced (Group 2), hypercholesterolemia-induced and treated with fraxetin (75 mg/kg) (Group 3), and hypercholesterolemia-induced and treated with simvastatin (10 mg/kg) (Group 4). The plasma lipid profile, status of enzymatic and non enzymatic antioxidants, and the levels of oxidative stress markers of all groups were analyzed.
RESULTS: The plasma level of total cholesterol, triglycerides, very low-density lipoprotein, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were significantly increased, and the level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was significantly decreased in the hypercholesterolemic rats in comparison with the normal, control rats. Oral administration of fraxetin significantly (p<0.05) reversed these altered parameters to near-normal levels. In addition, fraxetin treatment significantly (p<0.05) increased the status of antioxidants with a concomitant reduction in oxidative stress markers. Oil red O staining of the thoracic aorta revealed widespread deposition of lipid droplets in the hypercholesterolemic rats (Group 2), whereas the hypercholesterolemic rats treated with fraxetin or simvastatin showed only scattered droplets of fat. The effect of fraxetin on various biochemical parameters was comparable to that of simvastatin.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: The results of this study indicated that the lipid-lowering potential of fraxetin at the dosage of 75 mg/kg was comparable to that of the antihypercholesterolemic drug simvastatin. Further studies on the molecular mechanism of action of fraxetin are warranted and in progress in our laboratory at the time of writing.