Complications of fat accumulation in liver, hepatic steatosis such as liver cirrhosis and liver failure are among the common public health problems. We sought to investigate the damage to the hepatocyte ultrastructure induced by high fat diets (HFD) and compared the therapeutic effects at the cellular level of two antioxidant and lipid lowering agents; Crataegus aronia extracts and simvastatin on hepatic steatosis. Rats were either fed with HFD (model group) or low fat diets (LFD) (control group) for 15 weeks before being sacrificed and therapeutic groups started the treatment with these agents after week 11 until the sacrifice day. Harvested liver tissues were examined using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and liver homogenates were assayed for markers of anti- oxidative stress that are known to be modulated in liver injury. TEM examinations of the model group showed a profound damage to the hepatocytes compared to the control group as demonstrated by steatosis, damaged mitochondria and vaculated cytoplasm, disrupted rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum and nuclear membrane, dilated intercellular space between hepatocytes, and alterations in lysosomes. In addition, HFD ameliorated the anti-oxidant glutathione (GSH) and augmented the oxidative stress TBARS biomarkers. Both Crataegus aronia and simvastatin significantly reduced lipids and TBARS, and treated damage to hepatic cells, but hepatocyte structures were differentially responded to these agents. However, only Crataegus aronia induced GSH (p=0.001). We conclude that HFD-induced hepatic steatosis caused a substantial damage to the hepatocyte’s ultrastructures, and Crataegus aronia and simvastatin treatments differentially reversed hepatic injuries.
KEY WORDS: Hepatic steatosis; Mitochondrial dysfunction; NAFLD; Crataegus aronia; Simvastatin.