Sweet cherry anthocyanins support liver health... for rats at least

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

Image: © iStockPhoto / dkgilbey
Image: © iStockPhoto / dkgilbey

Related tags: Cholesterol, Fatty liver

Anthocyanins from sweet cherries may protect against diet-induced liver steatosis, or excessive amounts of fat in the liver’s tissue, says a new study with rats. 

The study​, published in the journal Nutrition​, built upon the abundant existing literature on the beneficial role anthocyanins have as an antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hyperlipidemic component.

Specifically, the cyanidin-3-glucoside variant “[has] been reported to ameliorate hepatic steatosis and adipose inflammation,” ​the researchers wrote. The condition known as liver steatosis is a common non-alcoholic fatty liver disease usually treated with drugs, but according to the researchers, some drug used for treatment “are usually accompanied by some adverse effect.”

For 15 weeks, the researchers investigated the effects of sweet cherry anthocyanin supplementation have on alleviating high-fat diet-induced liver steatosis in rodents to explore the possibility of a none-drug treatment for the liver condition.

Preparing the mice and the sweet cherry anthocyanins

The sweet cherry anthocyanin was extracted and pulverized, with one mg of the anthocyanin measured to contain amounts of cyanidine-3-rutinoside and pelargonidin-3-rutinoside, among other things.

Thirty male rodents were used for the study. The animals were housed five per cage and randomly divided into three groups: 10 rodents fed a low-fat diet, 10 rodents fed a high-fat diet, and 10 rodents fed a high-fat diet supplemented with sweet cherry anthocyanins.

The supplementation was given in liquid form at 200 mg/kg orally at the same time daily for 15 weeks, and the body weights and food intakes were monitored weekly.


The mice were sacrificed at week 15 after a half-day fast. Blood samples were collected and livers collected, rinsed with cold saline, and then weighed.

An automatic biochemistry analyser was used to measure total cholesterol, triacylglycerol, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

They found that at week 15, mice fed a high-fat diet supplemented with sweet cherry anthocyanins “displayed a significant reduction in body weight, liver weight, and liver index” ​compared to the mice that were only given a high-fat diet without supplementation.

They also found the serum levels for tricylglycerol, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in high-fat diet mice to be substantially higher than those fed a low-fat diet, but the group supplemented with the anthocyanin resulted in a significant reduction in these serum parameters.”

According to the researchers, the results demonstrated how sweet cherry anthocyanins may be developed into a supplement to “protect from high-fat diet-induced hepatic steatosis in mice,”​ leading to a suggested potential for the anthocyanin’s application in the “treatment of hepatic steatosis and other obesity related metabolic disorders.”

Source: Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.nut.2016.01.007
Dietary sweet cherry anthocyanins attenuates diet-induced hepatic steatosis by improving hepatic lipid metabolism in mice
Authors: Haizhao Song, et al.

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