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Phytomedicine. 2012 Jun 15;19(8-9):730-6. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2012.03.006. Epub 2012 Apr 18.

An in vitro assessment of the effect of Athrixia phylicoides DC. aqueous extract on glucose metabolism.

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Diabetes Discovery Platform, Medical Research Council, PO Box 19070, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa.


Athrixia phylicoides DC. is an aromatic shrub indigenous to the eastern parts of Southern Africa. Indigenous communities brew "bush tea" from dried twigs and leaves of A. phylicoides, which is consumed as a beverage and used for its medicinal properties. Plant polyphenols have been shown to be beneficial to Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) and obesity. Aqueous extracts of the plant have been shown to be rich in polyphenols, in particular phenolic acids, which may enhance glucose uptake and metabolism. The aim of this study was to determine the phenolic composition of a hot water A. phylicoides extract and assess its in vitro effect on cellular glucose utilisation. The most abundant phenolic compounds in the extract were 6-hydroxyluteolin-7-O-glucoside, chlorogenic acid, protocatechuic acid, a di-caffeoylquinic acid and a methoxy-flavonol derivative. The extract increased glucose uptake in C2C12, Chang and 3T3-L1 cells, respectively. Intracellular glucose was utilised by both oxidation (C2C12 myocytes and Chang cells; p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively) and by increased glycogen storage (Chang cells; p < 0.05). No cytotoxicity was observed in Chang cells at the concentrations tested. The effects of the extract were not dose-dependent. A. phylicoides aqueous extract stimulated in vitro glucose uptake and metabolism, suggesting that consumption of this phenolic-rich extract could potentially ameliorate metabolic disorders related to obesity and T2D.

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