Licochalcone E has an antidiabetic effect

J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Jul;23(7):759-67. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2011.03.021. Epub 2011 Aug 12.


Licochalcone E (lico E) is a retrochalcone isolated from the root of Glycyrrhiza inflata. Retrochalcone compounds evidence a variety of pharmacological profiles, including anticancer, antiparasitic, antibacterial, antioxidative and superoxide-scavenging properties. In this study, we evaluated the biological effects of lico E on adipocyte differentiation in vitro and obesity-related diabetes in vivo. We employed 3T3-L1 preadipocyte and C3H10T1/2 stem cells for in vitro adipocyte differentiation study and diet-induced diabetic mice for in vivo study. The presence of lico E during adipogenesis induced adipocyte differentiation to a significant degree, particularly at the early induction stage. Licochalcone E evidenced weak, but significant, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) ligand-binding activity. Two weeks of lico E treatment lowered blood glucose levels and serum triglyceride levels in the diabetic mice. Additionally, treatment with lico E resulted in marked reductions in adipocyte size and increases in the mRNA expression levels of PPARγ in white adipose tissue (WAT). Licochalcone E was also shown to significantly stimulate Akt signaling in epididymal WAT. In conclusion, lico E increases the levels of PPARγ expression, at least in part, via the stimulation of Akt signals and functions as a PPARγ partial agonist, and this increased PPARγ expression enhances adipocyte differentiation and increases the population of small adipocytes, resulting in improvements in hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia under diabetic conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / drug effects*
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipogenesis / physiology
  • Adipose Tissue, White / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chalcones / pharmacology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology*
  • Glycyrrhiza / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • PPAR gamma / genetics
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Chalcones
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • PPAR gamma
  • Plant Extracts
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Triglycerides
  • licochalcone E
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt