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Diabetes Obes Metab. 2010 Feb;12(2):148-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1326.2009.01131.x. Epub 2009 Sep 25.

Multiple molecular targets underlie the antidiabetic effect of Nigella sativa seed extract in skeletal muscle, adipocyte and liver cells.

Author information

1
Natural Health Products and Metabolic Diseases Laboratory, Department of Pharmacology and Montreal Diabetes Research Centre, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 3J7.

Abstract

AIM:

Nigella sativa (N. sativa) is a plant widely used in traditional medicine of North African countries. During the last decade, several studies have shown that extracts from the seeds of N. sativa have antidiabetic effects.

METHODS:

Our group has recently demonstrated that N. sativa seed ethanol extract (NSE) induces an important insulin-like stimulation of glucose uptake in C2C12 skeletal muscle cells and 3T3-L1 adipocytes following an 18 h treatment. The purpose of the present study was to elucidate the pathways mediating this insulin-like effect and the mechanisms through which these pathways are activated.

RESULTS:

Results from western immunoblot experiments indicate that in C2C12 cells as well as in H4IIE hepatocytes, but not in 3T3-L1 cells, NSE increases activity of Akt, a key mediator of the effects of insulin, and activity of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a master metabolic regulating enzyme. To test whether the activation of AMPK resulted from a disruption of mitochondrial function, the effects of NSE on oxygen consumption were assessed in isolated liver mitochondria. NSE was found to exhibit potent uncoupling activity.

CONCLUSION:

Finally, to provide an explanation for the effects of NSE in adipocytes, PPARgamma stimulating activity was tested using a reporter gene assay. Results indicate that NSE behaves as an agonist of PPARgamma. The data supports the ethnobotanical use of N. sativa seed oil as a treatment for diabetes, and suggests potential uses of this product, or compounds derived thereof, against obesity and the metabolic syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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