Flower of Gentiana veitchiorum has traditionally been used as an herbal medicine in Tibet for treatment of variola, respiratory infection, and pneumonia. However, the effective components contained in flower are not identified yet, and the underlying mechanisms for anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidative activities remain to be elucidated. Here, we first extracted the flavonoid mixture from G. veitchiorum flower. The mixture was then further isolated and the within compounds was identified through the high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). The results showed that apigenin (4′,5,7-trihydroxyflavone) was the most abundant flavonoid in G. veitchiorum flower. We next examined the antioxidative activity of the extracted apigenin using the ferric reducing/antioxidant power (FRAP), the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), and the 2,2′-azinobis-(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulphonate) (ABTS) assays and found that a positive correlation between apigenin concentration and reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging rate. The biochemical assays further revealed that the levels of total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG), and malondialdehyde (MDA) were reduced, while the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) was increased after apigenin treatment in hyperlipidemic rats. Moreover, we performed histopathological investigations and found that the lipidic deposition patterns were recovered and the amount of lipid vacuoles was significantly reduced in apigenin-treated hyperlipidemic rat liver. Western blotting assay showed that the expression of low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) and lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) were up-regulated in the apigenin-treated samples. Overall, our results demonstrated that the apigenin isolated from G. veitchiorum flower exhibited radical scavenging activities, and reversed the high fat diet-induced oxidative damage in rats. Its antioxidative activities are probably achieved via LDLR-LCAT signaling pathway.
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