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Berberine Enhances Insulin Sensitivity by Modulating Fat Storage

Berberine improves insulin sensitivity in individuals with metabolic syndrome, according to a new study published online in March 2012. Metabolic syndrome is a group of related risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, including hypertension, abdominal obesity, elevated triglycerides and blood sugar, decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and insulin resistance. The American Heart Association states that nearly 35 percent of American adults have metabolic syndrome.

Researchers investigated the impact of berberine on preadipocytes isolated from human stomach fat in vitro as well as in individuals with metabolic syndrome in vivo. The subjects received berberine supplementation daily for three months. The investigators evaluated insulin resistance, the adipose-derived hormones leptin and adiponectin, which play a role in appetite and metabolism, and body mass index at the beginning of the study and again after the supplementation period.

The researchers showed that berberine treatment of preadipocytes results in a major inhibition of human preadipocyte differentiation and leptin and adiponectin secretion. In addition, berberine down-regulated PPAR-gamma-2, which plays a role in fatty acid storage and glucose metabolism, as well as C/EBP-alpha, which are transcription factors required for adipogenesis and adiponectin and leptin mRNA expression.

The scientists also found that berberine supplementation in metabolic syndrome subjects resulted in decreased body mass index, insulin resistance, leptin levels and the leptin/adiponectin ratio.

The researchers concluded, “These results suggest that berberine improves insulin sensitivity by inhibiting fat store and adjusting adipokine profile in human preadipocytes and metabolic syndrome patients.”

This article was published on Wednesday July 10, 2013.
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Reference:

Yang J, et al. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:363845.