Anthocyanins, antioxidant pigments from fruit and vegetables, have a "significant potency" against fat cells and could be used for the prevention of weight gain, suggests a new study from Japan.
Both in vitro and in vivo experiments showed that the antioxidants influenced the function of fat cells, and thereby could play in anti-obesity and prevention against metabolic syndrome (MetS), states the paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
"This study shows that anthocyanins have a significant potency of antiobesity and ameliorate adipocyte function in in vitro and in vivo systems and also that they have important implications for preventing metabolic syndrome," wrote Takanori Tsuda from Chubu University (Aichi, Japan).
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a condition characterised by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type 2 diabetes and CVD.
Fifteen per cent of adult Europeans are estimated to be affected by MetS, while the US statistic is estimated to be a whopping 32 per cent. Obesity is established to be the main risk factor for MetS.
The new study looked at the effects of the anthocyanin cyanidin 3-O-beta-D-glucoside (C3G) in both mice fed a high-fat diet, and on human fat cells incubated with the compound.
Tsuda reports that mice fed a high-fat diet supplemented with C3G-rich purple corn color (PCC, 0.2 per cent) for 12 weeks had significantly lower body weights than animals fed only the high-fat diet (30 per cent lard).,
Furthermore, "the dietary PCC clearly suppressed the HF-diet-induced increase in the tissue weight deposits. The data indicate that the dietary PCC has a significant potency for antiobesity," wrote Tsuda.
The in vitro study used human preadipocytes (cells that can be stimulated to develop into fully-fledged fat cells, adipocytes) and incubated them with anthocyanins for 24 hours. A down-regulation of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), said to be associated with both obesity and type 2 diabetes, was observed after incubation, "suggesting that regulation of PAI-1 expression is one of the important therapeutic targets for the metabolic syndrome," states the research.
"These studies indicate anthocyanins have a unique therapeutic advantage responsible for the regulation of the adipocyte function," wrote Tsuda.
"These findings provide a biochemical basis for the use of anthocyanins, which can also have important implications for preventing metabolic syndrome," concluded the researcher.
The retail market for weight management products was estimated by Euromonitor International to be worth US$0.93bn (€0.73) in Europe in 2005 and $3.93bn in the US, indicating that call to slim down or face the health consequences is being heeded by a slice of the overweight population at least.
Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Voume 56, Number 3, Pages 642-646, doi: 10.1021/jf073113b
"Regulation of Adipocyte Function by Anthocyanins; Possibility of Preventing the Metabolic Syndrome"
Author: Takanori Tsuda