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Phytomedicine. 2012 Jun 15;19(8-9):846-53. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2012.03.001. Epub 2012 May 17.

Cimicifuga racemosa and its triterpene-saponins prevent the Metabolic Syndrome and deterioration of cartilage in the knee joint of ovariectomized rats by similar mechanisms.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology, University Medical Center G√∂ttingen, Germany.



An unphysiologic accumulation of fat cells in many parts of the body including abdomen and joints results in increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines which have adverse effects on serum lipids, glucose and on joint cartilage. The special extract of Cimicifuga racemosa CR BNO 1055 was shown to reduce the size of the abdominal fat depot. It was therefore tempting to test whether this extract, its saponin and its unpolar and polar fractions S- and R-fraction respectively (no quotation) also reduce fat depots and fat cell accumulation in a fat depot located in the lower hind leg (called paratibial fat depot = PFD), in joint fat pads (in the knee joint this is called Hoffa's fat pad) that occur in response to ovariectomy and whether this was accompanied by reduced serum lipids, glucose and improved cartilage features in the knee joint.


Rats (n = 10/group) were ovariectomized (ovx) and fed with CR BNO 1055, S- or R-fraction containing food (average intake 8.2, or 2.05 or 7.07 mg/day/animal) for 4 weeks. Ovx rats kept under no additive-containing food served as controls. The sizes of the PFD, of Hoffa's fat pad and of the cartilage thickness of the knee joints were determined by quantitative computer tomography and histomorphometrically. In the serum cholesterol, leptin and glucose levels were measured.


High load with fat tissue in the PFD and in the knee joints was present in the ovx rats. Treatment with CR BNO 1055 and its S-fraction reduced fat load of both, Hoffa's fat pad and of the PFD significantly and this resulted in reduced body weight which was significant under CR BNO 1055. Fat load in the PFD correlated significantly with the height of serum leptin and cholesterol. The fat load in the knee joint correlated inversely with the size of knee cartilage tissue.


High fat load of the body increases following ovx and this causes increased serum leptin, cholesterol and glucose levels. Following ovx the size of Hoffa's fat pad increases also significantly and this has adverse effects on knee cartilage tissue. Therefore, increased fat tissue in joints appears to belong to the Metabolic Syndrome. This effect can be largely prevented by CR BNO 1005 and its S- but not by its R-fraction. Hence, the saponins in CR BNO 1055 may be useful in preventing the Metabolic Syndrome and osteoarthritis.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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