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Red yeast rice prevents atherosclerosis through regulating inflammatory signaling pathways



To observe the effects of red yeast rice (RYR) on blood lipid levels, aortic atherosclerosis (AS), and plaque stability in apolipoprotein E gene knockout (ApoE-/-) mice.


Twenty-four ApoE-/- mice were fed with a high-fat diet starting from 6 weeks of age. Mice were randomized into three groups (n = 8 in each group): model group (ApoE-/- group), RYR group (ApoE-/- + RYR group), and simvastatin group (ApoE-/- + simvastatin group). Eight 6-week-old C57BL/6 mice were assigned as the control group and fed with a basic diet. After 36 weeks, plasma lipids and inflflammatory factors were measured. Aortic atherosclerotic lesions by microscope, scanning electron microscope and transmission electron microscope were observed. Plasma levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) were measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The level of high sensitivity C-reaction protein (Hs-CRP) was detected by the scattering immunoturbidimetric assay. Protein expression of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) in aorta were tested by immunohistochemistry.


Compared with the model group, treatment with RYR significantly decreased the levels of total cholesterol, triglyceride, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, lipoprotein (a), and apolipoprotein B100 in ApoE-/- mice (P<0.01). Compared with the model group, treatment with RYR decreased the levels of Hs-CRP, IL-6, and TNF-α (P<0.01). RYR also reduced the protein levels of NF-κB and MMP-9 of the aorta.


RYR has the anti-atherosclerotic and stabilizing unstable plaque effects. The mechanism might be related to the inflflammatory signaling pathways.

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Correspondence to Long-tao Liu.

Additional information

Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81102721, No. 81573821 and No. 81202809), Beijing Natural Science Foundation (No. 7172185), Technologic Item of State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (No. 04-05LP30, JDZX2015262), Chinese National Scientific Fund for Post-doctor (No. 2015M570220), Its Special Aid Item (No. 2016T90194) and the Key Technologies R & D Program of Shandong Province, China (No. 2010 GSF 10289)

Conflict of Interests The authors declare that they don't have any conflict of interest.

Author Contributions Wu M was responsible for conception and design of the study, carried out the search, performed data analysis, and drafted the manuscript. Zhang WG and Liu LT performed data extraction and participated in conception and design of the review, and critically revised the manuscript.

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Wu, M., Zhang, Wg. & Liu, Lt. Red yeast rice prevents atherosclerosis through regulating inflammatory signaling pathways. Chin. J. Integr. Med. 23, 689–695 (2017).

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