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Lipids. 2015 Feb;50(2):185-94. doi: 10.1007/s11745-014-3983-7. Epub 2014 Dec 30.

The safety and anti-hypercholesterolemic effect of coptisine in Syrian golden hamsters.

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School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Southwest University, Chongqing, 400715, China.


Current work was conducted to evaluate the cholesterol-lowering effect of coptisine extracted from Rhizoma coptidis in Syrian golden hamsters. The safety results indicated that coptisine was a safe and low-toxic compound. Coptisine showed a beneficial effect in the abnormal serum lipid levels induced by a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet (HFHC): at a concentration of 70.05 mg/kg, coptisine significantly led to a decrease in total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) levels by 26.70, 15.38, and 22.22 %, respectively, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) was increased by 41.74 % in serum of hamsters (p < 0.01). In addition, total bile acid (TBA) levels in feces of hamsters were elevated after coptisine administration. Further investigation has suggested that the mRNA and protein expression of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCR) in the liver of hamsters was down-regulated by high-dosage coptisine treatment (p < 0.05); mRNA and protein expression of low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) and cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase (CYP7A1) were dramatically up-regulated by coptisine administration. The apical sodium-dependent bile salt transporter expression was down-regulated in the coptisine-treated animals, but showed no significant differences from the HFHC groups. Taken together, our results demonstrate that a high dosage of coptisine could inhibit cholesterol synthesis via suppressing the HMGCR expression and promoting the use and excretion of cholesterol via up-regulating LDLR and CYP7A1 expression. These findings suggest a critical role for coptisine in anti- hypercholesterolemia, and thus it needs to be considered as a potential natural cholesterol lowering agent.

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