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Nutr Diabetes. 2013 May 27;3:e70. doi: 10.1038/nutd.2013.11.

Yacon diet (Smallanthus sonchifolius, Asteraceae) improves hepatic insulin resistance via reducing Trb3 expression in Zucker fa/fa rats.

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Department of Nephrology, Hypertension, Diabetology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Fukushima Medical University, Fukushima, Japan.



Yacon is a perennial plant forming a clump of >20 big, edible underground tubers. Yacon, which originates from South America, has become increasingly popular in the Japanese diet for tubers have a lower caloric value and a high fiber content. Recent studies have suggested that yacon feeding ameliorates diabetes as indicated by reduced blood glucose.


We fed male Zucker fa/fa rats for 5 weeks with isocaloric normal chow diet containing from 6.5% control aroid or 6.5% yacon. Insulin sensitivity was evaluated by euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp study.


Body weight was comparable between yacon- and aroid-fed rats. In the basal state, yacon feeding had an effect to lower fasting glucose levels from 184.1±4.1 to 167.8±2.7 mg dl(-1) (P<0.01), as well as basal hepatic glucose output (HGO) from 9.9±0.4 to 7.4 ± 0.2 mg kg(-1) per min (P<0.01). During the clamp studies, the glucose infusion rate required to maintain euglycemia was increased by 12.3% in yacon-fed rat. The insulin suppression of HGO was also increased in yacon-fed rats compared with control rats (85.3±2.4% vs 77.0±3.0%; P<0.05), whereas the glucose disposal rate was not different between the two groups. Consistent with the clamp data, the insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of Akt was significantly enhanced in liver but not in skeletal muscle. Furthermore, tribbles 3 (Trb3) expression, which is a negative regulator of Akt activity, was markedly reduced in the liver of yacon-fed rats compared with control rats.


These results indicate that the effect of yacon feeding to reduce blood glucose is likely due to its beneficial effects on hepatic insulin sensitivity in the insulin resistant state.

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