J Biochem Mol Toxicol. 2022 Jun 23:e23154. doi: 10.1002/jbt.23154. Online ahead of print.
Statins are widely used lipid-lowering drugs that cause many side effects. Withaferin-A (WA), popularly known as Ashwagandha, an ancient Indian medicinal herb, is extracted from Withania somnifera. Anti-atherosclerotic effect of WA has been reported. However, the mechanism remains unknown. Hence, we planned this study to investigate the WA mechanism in anti-atherosclerosis in a rat model. High cholesterol diet (HCD) was fed to induce atherosclerosis in Sprague-Dawley male rats. Five groups (N = 6 rats/group) were fed with normal diet, HCD, WA (10 mg/kg bw)+HCD, lovastatin (LS: 10 mg/kg bw)+HCD, WA (10 mg/kg bw) respectively for 90 days. Statistical analysis was done by GraphPad Prism (version 8.0.1) using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) followed by post hoc Duncan’s test with a significance level (p < 0.05). The groups were compared for lipid profiles, oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, inflammatory mediators, apoptotic markers, and histopathological changes in the liver and aorta. Treatment with HCD increased lipid profiles, inflammatory mediators, cytokines, and lipid peroxidation. WA as well as LS treatments significantly decreased these parameters restored the antioxidant status, and reduced lipid peroxidation (p < 0.05). Histopathological studies revealed that WA and LS reduced the hepatic fat and aortic plaque. WA reduced apoptosis via augmentation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt) pathway; increased B-cell lymphoma 2 and inhibited Bcl-2 associated X-protein proapoptotic proteins; TNF receptor superfamily member 6, Bim, caspase-3, and -9; demonstrated significant hypolipidemic and anti-inflammatory properties against HCD induced atherosclerosis in rats through regulation of inflammatory mediators and apoptosis via the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway.