Background

Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), statins, and ezetimibe (EZE) have demonstrated beneficial effects against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We investigated the efficacy of the combination of UDCA and the mix of rosuvastatin (RSV)/EZE in the treatment of NAFLD.

Methods

NAFLD mouse models were developed by injecting thioacetamide, fasting, and high-carbohydrate refeeding, high-fat diet, and choline-deficient L-amino acid-defined high-fat diet (CDAHFD). Low-dose UDCA (L-UDCA; 15 mg/kg) or high-dose UDCA (H-UDCA; 30 mg/kg) was administered with RSV/EZE. We also employed an in vitro model of NAFLD developed using palmitic acid-treated Hepa1c1c7 cells.

Results

Co-administration of RSV/EZE with UDCA significantly decreased the collagen accumulation, serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, and mRNA levels of fibrosis-related markers than those observed in the vehicle group in thioacetamide-treated mice (all P < 0.01). In addition, in the group fasted and refed with a high-carbohydrate diet, UDCA/RSV/EZE treatment decreased the number of apoptotic cells and serum ALT levels compared with those observed in the vehicle group (all P < 0.05). Subsequently, H-UDCA/RSV/EZE treatment decreased the number of ballooned hepatocytes and stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 (SCD-1) mRNA levels (P = 0.027) in the liver of high-fat diet-fed mice compared with those observed in the vehicle group. In the CDAHFD-fed mouse model, UDCA/RSV/EZE significantly attenuated collagen accumulation and fibrosis-related markers compared to those observed in the vehicle group (all P < 0.05). In addition, UDCA/RSV/EZE treatment significantly restored cell survival and decreased the protein levels of apoptosis-related markers compared to RSV/EZE treatment in palmitic acid-treated Hepa1c1c7 cells (all P < 0.05).

Conclusion

Combination therapy involving UDCA and RSV/EZE may be a novel strategy for potent inhibition of NAFLD progression.

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