Taraxasterol alleviates fatty acid-induced lipid deposition in calf hepatocytes by decreasing ROS production and endoplasmic reticulum stress

Ming Li, Yuxin He, Wei Zhang, Yufeng Yin, Qianming Jiang, Juan J Loor, Jingjing Wang, Jianan Wen, Wei Yang, Chuang Xu, Bingbing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increased concentrations of free fatty acids (FFAs) induce reactive oxygen species (ROSs) generation and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, thus, increasing the risk of fatty liver in dairy cows during the periparturient period. In non-ruminants, Taraxasterol (Tara; a pentacyclic triterpenoid found in medicinal plants) plays an important role in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant reactions. Whether Tara can alleviate or prevent fatty liver in ruminants is unknown. We addressed whether Tara supply could dampen lipid accumulation, ROSs production, and ER stress caused by FFAs in calf hepatocytes. Primary calf hepatocytes were isolated from five healthy calves (1 d old, female, 30-40 kg, fasting, rectal temperature 38.7-39.7 °C). In the first experiment, hepatocytes were incubated with various concentrations of Tara (2.5, 5, and 10 μg/mL) for 12 h prior to the 1.2-mM FFAs challenge. Results indicated that the level of ROSs was lowest with 5 μg/mL Tara. Thus, to further characterize the molecular mechanisms whereby Tara protects from FFAs-induced lipid deposition in calf hepatocytes, we performed incubations with 5 μg/mL Tara for 12 h prior to a 1.2-mM FFAs challenge for an additional 12 h. Results indicated that 1.2-mM FFAs challenge increased mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), enhanced expression of proteins and mRNA associated with ER stress (PERK, IRE1, GRP78, ATF6, and CHOP) and fatty acid synthesis (FASN, ACC1, and SREBP-1c), and ultimately led to increased lipid droplet synthesis. In contrast, Tara treatment alleviated these negative effects after 1.2-mM FFAs challenge. To determine whether Tara protects against FFAs-induced lipid droplet synthesis by alleviating oxidative stress, hepatocytes were treated with 5 μg/mL Tara for 22 h prior to H2O2 (440 μM) challenge for 2 h. Compared with H2O2 treatment alone, results revealed a marked decrease in ROSs, MMP, and protein abundance of ER stress (GRP78, ATF6, and CHOP) and lipid droplet synthesis in response to Tara prior to H2O2 challenge. Data suggested that the increase in mitochondrial ROSs production contributes to lipid accumulation in calf hepatocytes. Collectively, our in vitro data indicate that Tara alleviates fatty acid-induced lipid deposition. Further research is warranted to ascertain that Tara can be helpful in the therapeutic management of early lactating cows to control or alleviate excessive hepatic lipid deposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskad015
JournalJournal of animal science
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • endoplasmic reticulum stress
  • free fatty acids
  • hepatocytes
  • reactive oxygen species
  • Taraxasterol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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