J Biomed Transl Res.  2020 Jun;21(2):59-71. 10.12729/jbtr.2020.21.2.059.

Artemisia annua extract ameliorates high-fat diet-induced fatty liver by activating AMPK

  • 1G&P Bioscience Co., Ltd., Seoul 07528, Korea
  • 2Jeollanamdo Institute of Natural Resources Research, Jangheung 59338, Korea
  • 3Mokpo Marine Food-Industry Research Center, Mokpo 58621, Korea
  • 4Department of Pharmaceutical Engineering, International University of Korea, Jinju 52833, Korea


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is emerging as the most common liver disease in industrialized countries. Recently, natural compounds that may be beneficial for improving NAFLD have received increasing attention. Artemisia annua L. is the source of antimalarial phytomolecule, artemisinin, which has been reported to prevent obesity. However, the effect of A. annua extract on hepatic lipid metabolism remains unclear. This study was performed to determine the protective effect of Artemisia annua extract (AAE) on high-fat diet (HFD)-induced hepatic lipid accumulation, and elucidate the molecular mechanisms behind its effects in vivo and in vitro. We found that HFD-fed mice with AAE administration (50 mg/kg/day) for 8 weeks dramatically reduced hepatic lipid accumulation compared to the control mice taken with HFD alone. The body and liver weights of AAE group were significantly lower than those of HFD group, and oral administration of AAE remarkably suppressed the serum levels of triglyceride (TG), total cholesterol (TC), fasting glucose, alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST) in HFD-fed mice. AAE significantly increased the phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) in the liver of HFD-fed mice and HepG2 hepatocytes. Moreover, AAE downregulated the hepatic expression of sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c) and fatty acid synthase (FAS) in HFD-fed mice and high glucose-treated HepG2 cells. In addition, the inhibitory effects of AAE on the overexpression of SREBP-1c and FAS were attenuated by compound C, which is the specific AMPK inhibitor, in high glucose-treated HepG2 cells. These results indicated that AAE may represent a promising approach for the prevention and treatment of obesity-related NAFLD via the activation of AMPK and the regulation of AMPK-dependent lipogenic genes.


Artemisia annua extract (AAE); high-fat diet (HFD); fatty liver; AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK); non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
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