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Ficus deltoidea Leaf Alters Oxidative Stress, Protein Homeostasis and Ubiquitin-Proteasome Pathways in Fatty Acid-Induced Cell Line

Noor Nazirahanie Abrahim1orcid tiny, Norhaniza Aminudin2,3orcid tiny and Puteri Shafinaz Abdul-Rahman1,2*orcid tiny

1Department of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2Universiti Malaya Centre for Proteomics Research (UMCPR), Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

3Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS), Faculty of Science, Universiti Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Article history:

Received: 31 May 2022

Accepted: 9 May 2023

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Ficus deltoidea; steatosis; oxidative stress; ubiquitin-proteasome system; protein homeostasis

E WEB Goal 03The content of this publication has not been approved by the United Nations and does not reflect the views of the United Nations or its officials or Member States.


Research backgroundFicus deltoidea (mistletoe fig) is a shrub well known among locals in Malaysia primarily for its treatment of toothaches, colds and wounds. The aim of this study is to determine the potential of leaves, sourced from three different varieties of F. deltoidea, to exhibit antioxidant activity, a reduction of lipid concentration, and protein expression in steatosis-induced liver cell lines.

Experimental approachThe leaves of three F. deltoidea varieties, namely Ficus deltoidea var. angustifolia, Ficus deltoidea var. trengganuensis and Ficus deltoidea var. kunstleri, were subjected to water extraction. The resulting crude extracts were fractionated using water and ethyl acetate. Palmitic acid was used to induce lipid accumulation (steatosis) in human liver (WRL68) cells, before all the samples were tested for their lipid-reducing activity. Several proteomic approaches were incorporated. The changes in protein expression were determined using 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis separation, whereas identification of our protein spots of interest was carried out via matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight.

Results and conclusionsFicus deltoidea var. kunstleri alone demonstrated the ability to reduce lipids at the highest tested concentration (200 μg/mL) and was, therefore, used for subsequent experiments. Treatment with Ficus deltoidea var. kunstleri was found to restore redox status by increasing superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase amounts and decreasing malondialdehyde formation. Six proteins were successfully identified; these were heat shock protein beta-1 (HSPB1), proteasome subunit alpha type 1 (PSMA1), glutathione S-transferase omega 1 (GSTO1), peroxiredoxin-1 (PRDX1), histone H2B (HIST1H-2BD) and ubiquitin c-terminal hydrolase L3 (UCHL3). Through bioinformatics analysis, it was found that these proteins were significantly involved in specific pathways such as oxidative stress (PRDX1 and GSTO1), protein homeostasis (HSPB1) and degradation (UCHL3 and PSMA1).

Novelty and scientific contribution. F. deltoidea pretreatment was shown to reduce lipid accumulation, thus improving the redox status and protein homeostasis. This suggests the role of F. deltoidea as a preventive mechanism in non-alcohol fatty liver disease.

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