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Dietary Fructus Schisandrae extracts and fenofibrate regulate the serum/hepatic lipid-profile in normal and hypercholesterolemic mice, with attention to hepatotoxicity

Si-Yuan Pan1*, Qing Yu1, Yi Zhang1, Xiao-Yan Wang1, Nan Sun1, Zhi-Ling Yu2 and Kam-Ming Ko3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacology, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, 100102, China

2 School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, China

3 Division of Life Science, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, China

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2012, 11:120  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-11-120

Published: 19 September 2012



Schisandra, a globally distributed plant, has been widely applied to health care products. Here, we investigated the effects of dietary intake of Fructus Schisandrae chinensis (FSC), both aqueous and ethanolic extracts (AqFSC, EtFSC), on serum/hepatic lipid contents in normal diet (ND)- and high-fat/cholesterol/bile salt diet (HFCBD)-fed mice.


Male ICR mice were fed with ND or HFCBD, supplemented with 1 and 4% of AqFSC and EtFSC, respectively, or 0.1% fenofibrate, for 13 days. Lipids were determined according to the manufacture’s instructions.


EtFSC, but not AqFSC, significantly elevated hepatic triglyceride (TG) in mice fed with ND. Feeding mice with HFCBD increased serum total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels as well as alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity. Supplementation with AqFSC, EtFSC or fenofibrate significantly reduced hepatic TC and TG levels. However, AqFSC and EtFSC supplementation increased serum HDL and LDL levels in mice fed with HFCBD. Fenofibrate increased serum HDL and reduced serum LDL contents in hypercholesterolemic mice. EtFSC reduced, but fenofibrate elevated, serum ALT activity in both normal and hypercholesterolemic mice. While fenofibrate reduced serum TC, TG, and HDL levels in mice fed with ND, it increased serum HDL and reduced serum LDL and TC levels in mice fed with HFCBD. Hepatomegaly was found in normal and hypercholesterolemic mice fed with diet supplemented with fenofibrate.


Feeding mice with AqFSC and EtFSC ameliorated the HFCBD-induced hepatic steatosis. In addition, EtFSC may offer protection against hepatic injury in hypercholesterolemic mice.

Fructus schisandrae chinensis; Fenofibrate; Fatty liver; Hypercholesterolemia; Hepatotoxicity; Hepatomegaly