Research and development of MonascuspurpureusNTU 568
In Asia, the application of Monascusspecies in food,medicine, and industry dates back over a thousand years. Ithas been called “Hon-Chi”, “Anka”, “red koji”, “redChinese rice”, or “red mold rice” in several countries.The functions of MonascuspurpureusNTU 568 fermented productsincluded reducing blood serum cholesterol, anti-fatigue, decreasing amyloidβ peptide accumulation, prevention of obesity development, and prevention of diabetes development.
Monascus spp. can produce several bioactive metabolites,such as pigments (red pigment, monascorubramine andrubropunctanin; orange pigment, monascorubrin and rubropunctanin;yellow pigment, ankaflavin and monascin), isoflavones, polyketidemonacolins,dimerumic acid, and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA).According to the ancient Chinese medicalbook, dioscorea (DioscoreabatatasDence)has been used as atraditional medical herb substance, health food supplement,and functional food for the treatment of diabetes in China. Monascus sp. produced different secondarymetabolites by different substrates. Our research group has reported that by HPLC analysis, in comparison to the red mold rice and redmold adlay, the red mold dioscorea had high levels of anti-inflammatoryyellow pigments, monascin and ankaflavin.
Beneficial effect in Alzheimer’s disease management
Rats with an Aβ40 injection into the brain were used as theanimal model of Alzheimer's disease. Our research group has employed water maze and passiveavoidance learning to study the improvements in memoryand learning ability made by an ethanol extract of red mold fermented product by M. purpureusNTU 568, while observingthe accumulation of Aβ40 in the hippocampus and thecerebral cortex after the end of experiment. After 28 days ofthe intracerebral injection of Aβ40, the feeding of eitherhigh-dosage (755 mg/kg/day) or low-dosage (151 mg/kg/day) red mold fermented product effectively improved the Aβ-inducedimpairment of memory and learning ability in the rats, asdemonstrated in the water maze and passive avoidancelearning. Red mold fermented product also restored the activity ofacetylcholinesterase induced by Aβ40 in the rat cerebralcortex and hippocampus, increased the oxidant and antioxidantlevels, and restored the activity of superoxidedismutase. Finally, the section staining of the rat cerebralcortex and hippocampus showed that red moldfermented productcan effectively reduce the accumulation of Aβ40 in thecerebral cortex and hippocampus.
Beneficial effect in cholesterol management
The red mold dioscorea which produces highcontents of yellow pigments is reported to be better thantraditional fermented red mold rice in terms of hypolipidemicand anti-atherogenic capacity. In our previous experiment, each hamster was fed 96 mg/kg/day (onetimes the dose) of red mold rice and red mold dioscorea, adosage equivalent to an intake of 1 g of red mold fermentedproducts per adult per day. After 8 weeks of feeding redmold rice and red mold dioscorea to the hamsters, it was
found that 0.5 times the dosage of red mold dioscorea notonly increased serum HDL-C but also reduced the TC, TG,and LDL-C levels, with an inhibitory activity of 13.8%,38.7%, and 43.1%, respectively.
Atherosclerotic plaque in aorta caused by oxidativestress and lipid accumulation is the atheromatous lesionsin atherosclerosis. Red mold dioscoreatreatment have decreased the area of atheromatous lesionsby 73.3%. During the Monascusfermentation process, it produced a large number ofantioxidants (including dimerumic acid, tannin and phenol,etc.), showing that red mold dioscorea can be effective inpreventing oxidative stress caused by a high-fat diet andlipid accumulation on the blood vessel wall caused byatherosclerosis.
Beneficial effect in blood pressure management
In our previous study, spontaneously hypertensive rats(SHR) was used as the animal model,and a non-invasive blood pressure machine was used tomeasure the rats’ tail pulse. The rats werefed red mold dioscorea (fermented by M.purpureusNTU 568), to assess the shortacting(24 h) and long-acting (8 weeks) blood pressurelowering effect of red mold dioscorea. Inthe short-acting feeding of red mold dioscorea, one timesthe dosage (150 mg/kg) can reduce the systolic bloodpressure by 13 mmHg and the diastolic blood pressure by19 mmHg. After 8 weeks of feeding red mold dioscorea,the systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressurewere significantly reduced by 27 mmHg and 22 mmHg,respectively, and both the short-term (24 h) and long-term(8 weeks) feeding of red mold dioscorea had a significanteffect in lowering the blood pressure. Vascular remodelingin aorta caused by hypertension is the vascular lesions invascular disease. The aorta tissue of SHRs was removedand collected, and then a thin section was performed. Theresults showed that the elastinfibers in the aorta of Monascus-fermented product-treatedSHRs were significantly straighter than control animals.These results suggest that red mold dioscorea has beneficialeffects on anti-hypertensives.
Beneficial effect in blood glucose management
In our previousstudy, we found that the different red mold-fermentedproducts played a role in the regulation of blood glucoseand insulin resistance. After 8 weeks of feeding redmold dioscoreato thediabetic rats, it was found that red mold dioscoreareduced the blood glucose levels, with an inhibitory activityof 16.9%. The diabetic rats showed higherreactive oxygen species and lower activitiesof glutathione reductase, superoxide dismutase, and catalase in pancreas ascompared to normal and red mold-fermented dioscoreatreatedrats. These results indicatedthat redmold-fermented dioscoreanot only regulate hyperglycemiabut also provide the prevention effects of STZinducedpancreatic damage.