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J Tradit Chin Med. 2012 Mar;32(1):82-6.

Study on effects of zhi zi (fructus gardeniae) on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in the rat.

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TCM Department, Medical College of Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian 361005, China.



To investigate the effects of Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae) on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) induced by a high-fat diet in the rat.


A rat model of NAFLD was established using a high-fat diet. Twenty one rats were randomly divided into a normal group, a model group and a Zhi Zi treatment group, 7 rats per group. Drinking water and the drug were intragastrically administrated for 5 weeks. Samples were then taken to observe pathological changes of the liver tissue (HE staining); changes in the fat metabolism pathway e. g. triglyceride (TG) and free fatty acid (FFA) content; alterations in liver function, i.e. serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activity; and differences in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and P-IkB protein expression in the liver tissue.


Fatty degeneration and vacuole-like changes of different degrees occurred in hepatic cells of the model group. Markers for fat metabolism, serum ALT and AST activities, and expression of TNF-alpha and P-IkB proteins in liver tissue significantly increased. Fat metabolism in the Zhi Zi group significantly reduced, as shown by a drop in marker levels. Serum ALT and AST activities, and expression of TNF-alpha, P-IkB proteins in liver tissue were also significantly decreased in this group.


Zhi Zi has a very strong inhibitory action on lipidosis and inflammatory injury in the rat model of NAFLD. This mechanism may possibly be related to the inhibition of the free fatty acid metabolism pathway.

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