Inflammation and hyperlipidaemia strongly influence the development and progression of atherosclerosis, which is typically defined as the blood vessels' inflammatory response to injury at the outset of atherosclerosis plaque formation, which eventually results in cardiovascular events.
At the same time, edible fungi of the Monascus species have been used in TCM for their heart health benefits. Fermented products of Monascus purpureus NTU 568 are thought to have functional secondary metabolites, such as the anti-inflammatory pigments, ankaflavin and monascin.
In addition, M. purpureus-derived compounds have been said to possess hypolipidaemic properties.
Effects of the extract
Researchers from Taiwan's Chung Shan Medical University and the National Taiwan University set out to assess the impact of Ankascin 568 plus — an M. purpureus NTU 586 fermentation product extract containing ankaflavin and monascin — on blood lipids in participants with borderline high total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, a key indicator of coronary heart disease.
They recruited 40 subjects between the ages of 18 and 65, all of whom had total cholesterol levels of 180mg/dL and LDL cholesterol levels of 130mg/dL to 190mg/dL.
They then measured the patients' lipid profile, kidney, liver and thyroid function, electrolyte balance, creatinine phosphokinase, and fasting blood glucose.
Those in the treatment group each received 500mg of Ankascin 568 plus a day, and the researchers observed "statistically significant decreases of 11.9% and 19.0%" in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels respectively.
The researchers also assessed the safety of the product, by assaying the liver levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) in the participants, and found no significant difference in the ALT and AST levels between the placebo and Ankascin 568 plus group.
They stated that supplementation with one 500mg capsule of Ankascin 586 plus (provided by Taiwanese firm SunWay Biotech in this study) for longer than four weeks would result in significantly lower serum total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.
They concluded that "Ankascin 568 plus produced by M. purpureus NTU 568 fermentation may be a potentially useful agent for the regulation of blood lipids and treatment of coronary artery diseases."
Source: Journal of Food and Drug Analysis
"A randomized, double-blind clinical study of the effects of Ankascin 568 plus on blood lipid regulation"
Authors: Sheng-Fu Liu, et al.