Imperatorin, an active natural furocoumarin, exerts a wide range of biological activities. In the present study, the therapeutic effects of imperatorin on cardiac function and remodelling and the possible underlying mechanisms involved in high-fat/high-fructose diet (HFFD)-fed rats were investigated. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a high-fat diet plus 15 % fructose in drinking water for 16 weeks. HFFD-fed rats were treated with imperatorin (15 or 30 mg/kg/day) for the last 4 weeks. Treatment of HFFD-fed rats with imperatorin significantly reduced dyslipidaemia, hyperinsulinaemia, and hypertension. Imperatorin markedly alleviated HFFD-induced cardiac morphology alterations and left ventricular (LV) dysfunction. Imperatorin also significantly decreased malondialdehyde concentration and increased catalase activity in plasma and cardiac tissue. Additionally, decreased plasma tumour necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6 concentrations, together with restoration of cardiac nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf-2) protein expression, were also observed after treatment with imperatorin. These findings indicated that imperatorin alleviates HFFD-induced cardiac remodelling and LV dysfunction in rats. The possible underlying mechanism may involve the reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation, and the restoration of Nrf-2 expression.
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