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Adipocytes are insulin sensitive cells that play a major role in energy homeostasis. Obesity is the primary disease of fat cells and a major risk factor for the development of Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome. Obesity and its related disorders result in dysregulation of the mechanisms that control adipocyte gene expression and function. To identify potential novel therapeutic modulators of adipocytes, we screened 425 botanical extracts for their ability to modulate adipogenesis and insulin sensitivity. We observed that less than 2% of the extracts had substantial effects on adipocyte differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells. Two of the botanical extracts that inhibited adipogenesis were extracts from St. John's Wort (SJW). Our studies revealed that leaf and flower, but not root, extracts isolated from SJW inhibited adipogenesis as judged by examining PPARγ and adiponectin levels. We also examined the effects of these SJW extracts on insulin sensitivity in mature 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Both leaf and flower extracts isolated from SJW substantially inhibited insulin sensitive glucose uptake. The specificity of the observed effects was demonstrated by showing that treatment with SJW flower extract resulted in a time and dose dependent inhibition of insulin stimulated glucose uptake. SJW is commonly used in the treatment of depression. However, our studies have revealed that SJW may have a negative impact on adipocyte related diseases by limiting differentiation of preadipocytes and significantly inducing insulin resistance in mature fat cells. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications

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