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Toxicol In Vitro. 2013 Mar;27(2):945-53. doi: 10.1016/j.tiv.2013.01.014. Epub 2013 Jan 21.

Quercetin ameliorate insulin resistance and up-regulates cellular antioxidants during oleic acid induced hepatic steatosis in HepG2 cells.

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Cell Biology and Microbiology, Research and Development, The Himalaya Drug Company, Makali, Bangalore 562 123, India.


Hepatic lipid accumulation and oxidative stress contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Thus, we hypothesized that the hypolipidemic and antioxidant activity of quercetin would attenuate events leading to NAFLD. Addition of 2.0mM oleic acid (OA) into the culture media induced fatty liver condition in HepG2 cells by 24h. It was marked by significant accumulation of lipid droplets as determined by Oil-Red-O (ORO) based colorimetric assay, increased triacylglycerol (TAG) and increased lipid peroxidation. The inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-8 levels were significantly increased with decreased antioxidant molecules. OA induced insulin resistance which was evident by inhibition of glucose uptake and cell proliferation. Quercetin (10 μM) increased cell proliferation by 3.05 folds with decreased TAG content (45%) and was effective in increasing insulin mediated glucose uptake by 2.65 folds. The intracellular glutathione content was increased by 2.0 folds without substantial increase in GSSG content. Quercetin (10 μM) decreased TNF-α and IL-8 by 59.74% and 41.11% respectively and inhibited generation of lipid peroxides by 50.5%. In addition, RT-PCR results confirmed quercetin (10 μM) inhibited TNF-alpha gene expression. Further, superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase activities were increased by 1.68, 2.19 and 1.71 folds respectively. Albumin and urea content was increased while the alanine aminotransferase (ALAT) activity was significantly decreased by quercetin. Hence, quercetin effectively reversed NAFLD symptoms by decreased triacyl glycerol accumulation, insulin resistance, inflammatory cytokine secretion and increased cellular antioxidants in OA induced hepatic steatosis in HepG2 cells.

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