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J Nat Prod. 2009 May 22;72(5):933-7. doi: 10.1021/np900003a.

Activation of PPARgamma by metabolites from the flowers of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

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Department of Food Science, University of Aarhus, Kirstinebjergvej 10, 5792 Aarslev, Denmark.


Thiazolidinediones are insulin sensitizing drugs that target the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) gamma. An n-hexane extract of the flowers of Echinacea purpurea was found to activate PPARgamma without stimulating adipocyte differentiation. Bioassay-guided fractionations yielded five alkamides, of which one was new, and three fatty acids that all activated PPARgamma. The new alkamide hexadeca-2E,9Z,12Z,14E-tetraenoic acid isobutylamide (5) was identified by analysis of spectroscopic data and found to activate PPARgamma with no concurrent stimulation of adipocyte differentiation. Compound 5 was further shown to increase insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. The data suggest that flowers of E. purpurea contain compounds with potential to manage insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

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