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Eur J Nutr. 2012 Aug;51(5):529-40. doi: 10.1007/s00394-011-0236-x. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

Platyconic acid, a saponin from Platycodi radix, improves glucose homeostasis by enhancing insulin sensitivity in vitro and in vivo.

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Food Functional Research Division, Korean Food Research Institutes, Sungnam, Korea.



Previous research demonstrated that the crude saponins of Platycodi radix improve glucose metabolism by enhancing insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetic animals; however, which individual saponins are the most potent insulin sensitizers is unknown.


This study investigated which saponin(s) have anti-diabetic action in vitro and in vivo.


The insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and PPAR-γ agonistic actions of six saponins from Platycodi radix were investigated in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion was determined in Min6 cells. Four individual saponins (20 mg/kg body weight) were orally administered to low-dose streptozotocin-injected diabetic mice fed a high-fat diet for 8 weeks to evaluate glucose tolerance by oral glucose tolerance testing (OGTT), insulin sensitivity by insulin tolerance testing, and insulin signaling in the liver and adipose tissues.


Platyconic acid (PA) most effectively increased insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, possibly in part by working as a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR)-γ activator; however, none of the saponins improved glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in insulinoma cells. PA-treated diabetic mice exhibited the lowest peak serum glucose levels and highest serum insulin levels during the first part of OGTT. PA also improved insulin sensitivity: PA increased glycogen accumulation and decreased triacylglycerol storage in liver, which was associated with enhanced hepatic insulin signaling, while PA potentiated the expression of adiponectin and PPAR-γ in adipose tissue, and improved insulin signaling and increased GLUT4 translocation into the membranes.


PA improves glucose homeostasis in type 2 diabetic mice, partly by enhancing hepatic and adipocyte insulin sensitivity, possibly by activating PPAR-γ.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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