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Phytomedicine. 2012 Feb 15;19(3-4):253-61. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2011.12.001. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Synergism of plant-derived polyphenols in adipogenesis: perspectives and implications.

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Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular (IBMC), Universidad Miguel Hernández, Elche, Alicante, Spain.


Dietary polyphenols may exert their pharmacological effect via synergistic interactions with multiple targets. Putative effects of polyphenols in the management of obesity should be primarily evaluated in adipose tissue and consequently in well-documented cell model. We used Hibiscus sabdariffa (HS), a widely recognised medicinal plant, as a source of polyphenols with a number of salutary effects previously reported. We present here the full characterisation of bioactive components of HS aqueous extracts and document their effects in a model of adipogenesis from 3T3-L1 cells and in hypertrophic and insulin-resistant adipocytes. Aqueous extracts were up to 100 times more efficient in inhibiting triglyceride accumulation when devoid of fibre and polysaccharides. Significant differences were also observed in reactive oxygen species generation and adipokine secretion. We also found that, when polyphenols were fractionated and isolated, the benefits of the whole extract were greater than the sum of its parts, which indicated a previously unnoticed synergism. In conclusion, polyphenols have interactive and complementary effects, which suggest a possible application in the management of complex diseases and efforts to isolate individual components might be irrelevant for clinical medicine and/or human nutrition.

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