Background: Escalating trends of obesity and associated type 2 diabetes (T2D) has prompted an increase in the use of alternative and complementary functional foods. Momordica charantia or bitter melon (BM) that is traditionally used to treat diabetes and complications has been demonstrated to alleviate hyperglycemia as well as reduce adiposity in rodents. However, its effects on human adipocytes remain unknown. The objective of our study was to investigate the effects of BM juice (BMJ) on lipid accumulation and adipocyte differentiation transcription factors in primary human differentiating preadipocytes and adipocytes.
Methods: Commercially available cryopreserved primary human preadipocytes were treated with and without BMJ during and after differentiation. Cytotoxicity, lipid accumulation, and adipogenic genes mRNA expression was measured by commercial enzymatic assay kits and semi-quantitative RT-PCR (RT-PCR).
Results: Preadipocytes treated with varying concentrations of BMJ during differentiation demonstrated significant reduction in lipid content with a concomitant reduction in mRNA expression of adipocyte transcription factors such as, peroxisome proliferator-associated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) and sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c) and adipocytokine, resistin. Similarly, adipocytes treated with BMJ for 48 h demonstrated reduced lipid content, perilipin mRNA expression, and increased lipolysis as measured by the release of glycerol.
Conclusion: Our data suggests that BMJ is a potent inhibitor of lipogenesis and stimulator of lipolysis activity in human adipocytes. BMJ may therefore prove to be an effective complementary or alternative therapy to reduce adipogenesis in humans.