Fafeng Cheng and Chongyang Ma contributed equally to this work.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) represents one of the most common forms of liver disease worldwide, and it is always regarded as a consequence of a sedentary, food-abundant lifestyle, sitting for an extended time, and a low physical activity level, which often coincide with chronic and long-lasting psychological stress. A Chinese medicine Sinisan (SNS) may be a potential formula for treating this kind of disease.
In this study, a long-term chronic restraint stress protocol was used to investigate the mechanism underlying stress-induced NALFD. To investigate the effect of SNS treatment on stress-induced NAFLD, we measured the liver and serum values of total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG), liver free fatty acids (FFA), low-density lipoprotein, superoxide dismutase, tumor necrosis factor-α, malondialdehyde, interleukin (IL)-6, and serum values of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and alkaline phosphatase. Results are shown as a mean ± standard deviation. Significant differences between the groups were evaluated using the Student t-test. For multiple comparisons, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used. If the results of ANOVA indicated significant differences, post hoc analysis was performed with the Tukey test or Dunnett test, and p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Long-term chronic stress led to steatosis and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Additionally, SNS treatment significantly increased body weight gain (p < 0.01) and sucrose preference (p < 0.001), and it reduced the liver values of TC, TG, and FFA (p < 0.05). SNS also reduced the serum values of AST and ALT (p < 0.001), and the liver value of IL-6 (p < 0.01).
This study’s results demonstrate that psychological stress may be a significant risk factor of NAFLD. Furthermore, the traditional Chinese medicine formula SNS may have some beneficial effect in antagonizing psychological stress and stress-related NAFLD.