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J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Jan 9;61(1):143-50. doi: 10.1021/jf304346r. Epub 2012 Dec 24.

Monascin and ankaflavin have more anti-atherosclerosis effect and less side effect involving increasing creatinine phosphokinase activity than monacolin K under the same dosages.

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Department of Life Science, National Taitung University, Taitung, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Monacolin K has long been considered a major effective component in the hypolipidemic functions of Monascus . Monacolin K also serves as a well-known hypolipidemic medication, but its side effect myopathy is a concern. Monascin and ankaflavin, the yellow pigments produced by Monascus species, have been proven to possess hypolipidemic functions; however, no studies have compared the hypolipidemic effects of monascin, ankaflavin, and monacolin K under the same dosages. In this study, the equal dosages of monascin, ankaflavin, and monacolin K were oral administrated to hamsters fed a high cholesterol diet for 6 weeks. Comparison of the displayed hypolipidemic and anti-atherosclerosis effects was performed, in addition to an investigation into the inducement of side effect. The results indicated that monascin and ankaflavin were similar to monacolin K in significantly reducing total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels in serum and lipid plaque (p < 0.05) in the heart aorta. In addition, ankaflavin achieved the effects of serum TC and TG reduction, with no significant difference as compared to those effects of monacolin K (p > 0.05). However, as compared to monacolin K, ankaflavin possessed more significant effects on the prevention of fatty liver and lipid plaque accumulation in heart aorta. More importantly, monascin significantly enhanced high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) concentrations, while monacolin K displayed the opposite effect. Regarding the side effect, monacolin K also raised elevated creatinine phosphokinase (CPK) activity, which was highly correlated with rhabdomyolysis development, while monascin and ankaflavin did not induce such a side effect. In conclusion, MS and AK had the potential to be developed as hypolipidemic agents without rhabdomyolysis development.

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