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PLoS One. 2014 Nov 6;9(11):e112180. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112180. eCollection 2014.

Enhancement of energy expenditure following a single oral dose of flavan-3-ols associated with an increase in catecholamine secretion.

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Department of Bio-science and Engineering, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Saitama, Saitama, Japan.


Numerous clinical studies have reported that ingestion of chocolate reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome. However, the mechanisms by which this occurs remain unclear. In this murine study, the metabolic-enhancing activity of a 10 mg/kg mixture of flavan-3-ol fraction derived from cocoa (FL) was compared with the same single dose of (-)-epicatechin (EC). Resting energy expenditure (REE) was significantly increased in mice treated with the FL versus the group administered the distilled water vehicle (Cont) during periods of ad libitum feeding and fasting. Mice were euthanized under the effect of anesthesia 2, 5, and 20 hr after treatment with FL or Cont while subsequently fasting. The mRNA levels of the uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1 alpha (PGC-1α) in brown adipose tissue (BAT) were significantly increased 2 hr after administration of FL. UCP-3 and PGC-1α in the gastrocnemius were significantly increased 2 and 5 hr after administration of the FL. The concentrations of phosphorylated AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) 1α were found to be significant in the gastrocnemius of mice 2 and 5 hr after ingesting FL. However, these changes were not observed following treatment with EC. Plasma was collected for measurement of catecholamine levels in other animals euthanized by decapitation 2 and 4 hr after their respective group treatment. Plasma adrenaline level was significantly elevated 2 hr after treatment with FL; however, this change was not observed following the administration of EC alone. The present results indicated that FL significantly enhanced systemic energy expenditure, as evidenced by an accompanying increase in the type of gene expression responsible for thermogenesis and lipolysis, whereas EC exhibited this less robustly or effectively. It was suggested the possible interaction between thermogenic and lipolytic effects and the increase in plasma catecholamine concentrations after administration of a single oral dose of FL.

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