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Phytomedicine. 2013 Oct 15;20(13):1168-71. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2013.06.016. Epub 2013 Jul 20.

Cyclopia maculata (honeybush tea) stimulates lipolysis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.

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Diabetes Discovery Platform, Medical Research Council, P.O. Box 19070, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa. Electronic address:


We have previously, for the first time, demonstrated that hot water extracts of Cyclopia maculata and Cyclopia subternata, endemic South African plants that are consumed as herbal teas, inhibit adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. The aim of this study was to extend the anti-obesity investigations of these plants by quantifying lipolysis in mature 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Glycerol concentration in culture supernatants was used as a marker of adipocyte lipolysis. Isoproterenol, a β-adrenergic agonist and a known lipolytic agent, was used as a positive control in our assays. Lipolysis was stimulated by all extracts, although statistical significance was noted for fermented (oxidised) C. maculata only. A concentration of 80μg/ml of C. maculata extract induced maximal lipolysis (1.8-fold, p<0.001). The increased lipolysis was accompanied by an increase in the expression of hormone sensitive lipase (1.6-fold, p<0.05) and perilipin (1.6-fold, p<0.05). The plant extracts, at the concentration range assayed (0-100μg/ml), were not cytotoxic in terms of mitochondrial dehydrogenase and adenosine-5'-triphosphate activity. These results showed that C. maculata stimulates lipolysis in mature 3T3-L1 adipocytes, providing further support for the anti-obesity effects of Cyclopia spp.


3T3-L1 adipocytes; Cyclopia maculata; Cyclopia subternata; Glycerol release; Lipolysis

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