Hyperlipidemia and inflammation play important roles in the development and progression of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is regarded as an inflammatory response of blood vessels to injury at the start of atherosclerotic plaque formation, which then leads to cardiovascular events. Edible fungi of the Monascus species have been used as traditional Chinese medicines in East Asia for several centuries. The fermented products of Monascus purpureus NTU 568 possess a number of functional secondary metabolites including the anti-inflammatory pigments monascin and ankaflavin. Compounds derived from M. purpureus have been shown to have hypolipidemic effects. We aimed to evaluate the effects of M. purpureus NTU 568 fermentation product an extract (Ankascin 568 plus) containing monascin and ankaflavin on blood lipids in volunteers with borderline high levels of total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) by conducting a 12-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, adaptive-design study. This study enrolled 40 subjects aged 18–65 years from a population of patients with TC and LDL-C levels of ≥180 mg/dL and 130–190 mg/dL, respectively. Measured endpoints included lipid profile, liver, kidney and thyroid function, electrolyte balance, creatinine phosphokinase, and fasting blood glucose. After 4 weeks of treatment (500 mg Ankascin 568 plus/day), the changes in the lipid levels showed that the active products had a more favorable effect than the placebo. Compared to the baseline, statistically significant decreases of 11.9% and 19.0% were observed in TC and LDL-C levels, respectively (p < 0.05 for all pairs). This study demonstrated that subjects administered one 500 mg capsule of Ankascin 568 plus for more than 4 weeks exhibited a significant reduction in serum TC and LDL-C levels. Therefore, Ankascin 568 plus may be a potentially useful agent for the regulation of blood lipids and the treatment of coronary artery diseases. © 2017

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