The nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) γ plays an important role in adipocyte differentiation. Its ligands, including thiazolidinediones, improve insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes. We investigated the effects of artepillin C, an ingredient of Baccharis dracunculifolia, on adipogenesis and glucose uptake using 3T3-L1 cells. In PPARγ ligand-binding assays, artepillin C exhibited binding affinity toward PPARγ. Artepillin C dose-dependently enhanced adipocyte differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells. As a result of the artepillin C-induced adipocyte differentiation, the gene expression of PPARγ and its target genes, such as aP2, adiponectin and glucose transporter (GLUT) 4, was increased. These increases were abolished by cotreatment with GW9662, a PPARγ antagonist. In mature 3T3-L1 adipocytes, artepillin C significantly enhanced the basal and insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. These effects were decreased by cotreatment with a PI3K inhibitor. Although artepillin C had no effects on the insulin signaling cascade, artepillin C enhanced the expression and plasma membrane translocation of GLUT1 and GLUT4 in mature adipocytes. In conclusion, these findings suggest that artepillin C promotes adipocyte differentiation and glucose uptake in part by direct binding to PPARγ, which could be the basis of the pharmacological benefits of green propolis intake in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
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