Open Access Research

Herbal adaptogens combined with protein fractions from bovine colostrum and hen egg yolk reduce liver TNF-α expression and protein carbonylation in Western diet feeding in rats

C Brooks Mobley1, Ryan G Toedebusch2, Christopher M Lockwood3, Alexander J Heese2, Conan Zhu2, Anna E Krieger2, Clayton L Cruthirds2, John C Hofheins2, Joseph M Company2, Charles E Wiedmeyer4, Dae Y Kim4, Frank W Booth2567 and Michael D Roberts12*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Kinesiology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA

2 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA

3 4LIFE Research, Sandy, UT, USA

4 Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA

5 Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA

6 Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA

7 Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2014, 11:19  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-19

Published: 23 April 2014



We examined if a purported anti-inflammatory supplement (AF) abrogated Western-diet (WD)-induced liver pathology in rats. AF contained: 1) protein concentrates from bovine colostrum and avian egg yolk; 2) herbal adaptogens and antioxidants; and 3) acetyl-L-carnitine.


Nine month-old male Brown Norway rats were allowed ad libitum access to WD for 41–43 days and randomly assigned to WD + AF feeding twice daily for the last 31–33 days (n = 8), or WD and water-placebo feeding twice daily for the last 31–33 days (n = 8). Rats fed a low-fat/low-sucrose diet (CTL, n = 6) for 41–43 days and administered a water-placebo twice daily for the last 31–33 days were also studied. Twenty-four hours following the last gavage-feed, liver samples were analyzed for: a) select mRNAs (via RT-PCR) as well as genome-wide mRNA expression patterns (via RNA-seq); b) lipid deposition; and, c) protein carbonyl and total antioxidant capacity (TAC). Serum was also examined for TAC, 8-isoprostane and clinical chemistry markers.


WD + AF rats experienced a reduction in liver Tnf-α mRNA (-2.8-fold, p < 0.01). Serum and liver TAC was lower in WD + AF versus WD and CTL rats (p < 0.05), likely due to exogenous antioxidant ingredients provided through AF as evidenced by a tendency for mitochondrial SOD2 mRNA to increase in WD + AF versus CTL rats (p = 0.07). Liver fat deposition nor liver protein carbonyl content differed between WD + AF versus WD rats, although liver protein carbonyls tended to be lower in WD + AF versus CTL rats (p = 0.08). RNA-seq revealed that 19 liver mRNAs differed between WD + AF versus WD when both groups were compared with CTL rats (+/- 1.5-fold, p < 0.01). Bioinformatics suggest that AF prevented WD-induced alterations in select genes related to the transport and metabolism of carbohydrates in favor of select genes related to lipid transport and metabolism. Finally, serum clinical safety markers and liver pathology (via lesion counting) suggests that chronic consumption of AF was well tolerated.


AF supplementation elicits select metabolic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant properties which was in spite of WD feeding and persisted up to 24 hours after receiving a final dose.

Liver; Inflammation; Oxidative stress; RNA-seq