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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 145421, 8 pages
Review Article

Dietary Anthocyanins as Nutritional Therapy for Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

1Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation (DEPT), Università degli Studi di Milano, Internal Medicine, Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Policlinico, 20122 Milano, Italy
2Division of Human Nutrition, Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences (DeFENS), Università degli Studi di Milano, 20122 Milano, Italy
3Pediatric Clinic 2, Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, Università degli Studi di Milano, Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Policlinico, 20122 Milano, Italy

Received 24 July 2013; Accepted 3 September 2013

Academic Editor: Cristina Angeloni

Copyright © 2013 Luca Valenti et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), defined by excessive lipid accumulation in the liver, is the hepatic manifestation of insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome. Due to the epidemics of obesity, NAFLD is rapidly becoming the leading cause of altered liver enzymes in Western countries. NAFLD encompasses a wide spectrum of liver disease ranging from simple uncomplicated steatosis, to steatohepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Diet may affect the development of NAFLD either by increasing risk or by providing protective factors. Therefore, it is important to investigate the role of foods and/or food bioactives on the metabolic processes involved in steatohepatitis for preventive strategies. It has been reported that anthocyanins (ACNs) decrease hepatic lipid accumulation and may counteract oxidative stress and hepatic inflammation, but their impact on NAFLD has yet to be fully determined. ACNs are water-soluble bioactive compounds of the polyphenol class present in many vegetable products. Here, we summarize the evidence evaluating the mechanisms of action of ACNs on hepatic lipid metabolism in different experimental setting: in vitro, in vivo, and in human trials. Finally, a working model depicting the possible mechanisms underpinning the beneficial effects of ACNs in NAFLD is proposed, based on the available literature.