In this study we examined the acute in vivo effect and short- and long-term in vitro effects of samples from native and commercial Ilex paraguariensis on glucose homeostasis. Also, the potential effect of I. paraguariensis on serum insulin secretion was investigated. The chemical identification and quantification of methyl xanthines and polyphenols in CH₂Cl₂, EtOAc and n-BuOH fractions of native I. paraguariensis as well as infusions of green and roasted I. paraguariensis from a commercial source was verified by high-performance liquid chromatography. The results for the serum glucose-lowering indicated that both fractions and both infusions were able to improve significantly the oral glucose tolerance curve. Additionally, both the EtOAc and n-BuOH fractions induced-insulin secretion, but EtOAc induced an early (at 15 min) and late (at 60 min) biphasic peak of insulin secretion similar to glipizide stimulatory effect. Both fractions increased liver glycogen content compared with fasted normal rats. Also, EtOAc and n-BuOH fractions inhibited in vitro disaccharidases activities after an acute treatment. The maximum inhibitory effect of the EtOAc and n-BuOH fractions on maltase activity (at 5 min) was around 35%. The evident reduction of protein glycation by glucose or fructose with EtOAc and n-BuOH fractions increased from 7 to 28 days of in vitro incubation. Inhibition of bovine serum albumin glycation by glucose and fructose, by around 50% and 90%, respectively, was observed. Additionally, the green and roasted mate infusions reduced the formation of AGEs in a characteristic long-term effect. In conclusion, this study shows that I. paraguariensis has an anti-hyperglycemic potential role able to improve the diabetic status and is probably a source of multiple hypoglycemic compounds.
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