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Br J Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;146(1):41-8.

The hypoglycaemic activity of fenugreek seed extract is mediated through the stimulation of an insulin signalling pathway.

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National Centre for Cell Science, NCCS Complex, Pune University Campus, Ganeshkhind, India.


The in vivo hypoglycaemic activity of a dialysed fenugreek seed extract (FSE) was studied in alloxan (AXN)-induced diabetic mice and found to be comparable to that of insulin (1.5 U kg(-1)). FSE also improved intraperitoneal glucose tolerance in normal mice. The mechanism by which FSE attenuated hyperglycaemia was investigated in vitro. FSE stimulated glucose uptake in CHO-HIRc-mycGLUT4eGFP cells in a dose-dependent manner. This effect was shown to be mediated by the translocation of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) from the intracellular space to the plasma membrane. These effects of FSE on GLUT4 translocation and glucose uptake were inhibited by wortmannin, a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) inhibitor, and bisindolylmaleimide 1, a protein kinase C (PKC)-specific inhibitor. In vitro phosphorylation analysis revealed that, like insulin, FSE also induces tyrosine phosphorylation of a number of proteins including the insulin receptor, insulin receptor substrate 1 and p85 subunit of PI3-K, in both 3T3-L1 adipocytes and human hepatoma cells, HepG2. However, unlike insulin, FSE had no effect on protein kinase B (Akt) activation. These results suggest that in vivo the hypoglycaemic effect of FSE is mediated, at least in part, by the activation of an insulin signalling pathway in adipocytes and liver cells.

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