It may not grab headlines the way Covid has, but obesity is one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. More than 600 million adults and 100 million children in 200 countries are considered obese.
There are very few safe pharmaceutical interventions, but in a new study from the Dept. of Molecular Biosciences and BioEngineering, researchers have taken a small yet solid step toward developing a natural supplement that could reduce obesity.
In the world of natural products, dihydromyricetin (DHM), also called ampelopsin, is known to exert antidiabetic effects. However, the biochemical target of this isolate from the herbal plant Ampelopsis grossedentata is unknown. For this study, the primary goal of principal investigator Qing Li was to identify that biochemical target.
The team, which included C.Y. Hu of the Dept. of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, as well as several MBBE students and visiting scholars to CTAHR, was successful and found that the chemical DHM can reduce lipid droplet formation in adipocytes. They also found DHM has direct interaction with a protein called “78-kDa glucose-regulated protein” (GRP78) – the object of their search.
“It was crucial to identify the biochemical target of DHM, and show how DHM is able to reduce lipid droplet formation in 3T3-L1 cells through a mode of action that is plausibly associated with direct interactions between GRP78 and DHM,” says Qing. “Now we can be elucidating GRP78’s physiological function and therapeutic value.”
He adds, “It is quite exciting because the work shows how ampelopsin works as an anti-obesity agent, and is a step forward in determining potential applications of DHM as an anti-obesity agent. This study brings us a step closer to further development of this natural supplement in the clinical setting for combating obesity.”
Read the full study, “Dihydromyricetin imbues anti-adipogenic effects on 3T3-L1 cells via direct interactions with 78-kDa glucose regulated protein,” which appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Nutrition.