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As metabolomics is widely used in the study of disease mechanisms, an increasing number of studies have found that metabolites play an important role in the occurrence of diseases. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects and mechanisms of quercetin in high-fat-sucrose diet (HFD)-induced nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) development using nontargeted metabolomics. A rat model of NAFLD was established by feeding with an HFD for 30 and 50 days. The results indicated quercetin exhibited hepatoprotective activity in 30-day HFD-induced NAFLD rats by regulating fatty acid related metabolites (adrenic acid, etc.), inflammation-related metabolites (arachidonic acid, etc.), oxidative stress-related metabolites (2-hydroxybutyric acid) and other differential metabolites (citric acid, etc.). However, quercetin did not improve NAFLD in the 50-day HFD; perhaps quercetin was unable to reverse the inflammation induced by a long-term high-fat diet. These data indicate that dietary quercetin may be beneficial to NAFLD in early stages. Furthermore, combining metabolomics and experimental approaches opens avenues to study the effects and mechanisms of drugs for complex diseases.

Abstract Ethnopharmacological relevance Tibetan medicine has been practiced for 3800 years. Anzhijinhua San (AZJHS), which is a traditional Tibetan medicine, has been effective in the treatment of indigestion, anorexia and cold diarrhea. However, the effects of AZJHS on allergic diarrhea have not been reported. Aim of the study The aim of the present study was to elucidate the effect of AZJHS on experimental ovalbumin-induced diarrhea and elucidate its possible mechanism. Materials and methods Female BALB/c mice were sensitized by intraperitoneal injection with 50 μg ovalbumin (OVA) and 1 mg alum in saline twice during a 2-week period. From day 28, mice were orally challenged with OVA (50 mg) every other day for a total of ten times. AZJHS (46.8 and 468.0 mg/kg) was orally administered every other day from day 0–46. Food allergy symptoms were evaluated. OVA- specific IgE, 5-HT and its metabolites in serum were determined. Immunohistochemical and histopathology were performed in gastrointestinal tract tissues. 5-HT-related gene expression was assayed in the colon. Results Severe symptoms of allergic diarrhea were observed in the model group (diarrhea, anaphylactic response, and rectal temperature). AZJHS (46.8 and 468.0 mg/kg) significantly reduced mouse diarrhea and significantly prevented the increases in OVA-specific IgE levels (P < 0.05), which challenge with OVA. AZJHS (46.8 and 468.0 mg/kg) significantly prevented the increases in 5-HT-positive cells. The nuclei of EC cells in the AZJHS (46.8 and 468.0 mg/kg) group increased in size and the secretory granules were fewer in number compared with those in the model group. AZJHS (46.8 and 468.0 mg/kg) significantly increased the relative fold changes of 5-HTP and 5-HT compared with the model group. The mRNA expression of the serotonin transporter (Sert) and serotonin receptor 3A (Htr3a) was significantly decreased after the 10th challenge with OVA, and AZJHS (46.8 and 468.0 mg/kg) significantly increased these levels. Conclusions We demonstrated that the administration of AZJHS attenuated OVA-induced diarrhea by regulating the serotonin pathway. These results indicated that AZJHS may be a potential candidate as an anti-allergic diarrhea agent. Graphical abstract fx1 [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]