Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra Linne) is a well-known medicinal plant and glabridin is an isoflavan isolated from licorice. In this study, we investigated the anti-obesity effect of glabridin and glabridin-rich supercritical fluid extract of licorice (LSC). Glabridin effectively inhibited adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells. Moreover, LSC showed inhibitory effect on adipogenesis in a dose-dependent manner. The inhibitory effect of LSC resulted from inhibiting the induction of the transcriptional factors CCAAT enhancer binding protein alpha and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma. Then we fed mice with high-fat diet containing none, 0.1% and 0.25% LSC for 8weeks to explore the anti-obesity effect of LSC in vivo. LSC significantly reduced weight gain by high-fat diet in a dose-dependent manner. The reductions of the hypertrophy of white adipose tissue and of fat cell size were also observed. In the liver, LSC supplementation effectively inhibited high-fat diet-induced hepatic steatosis through downregulation of gluconeogenesis related phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase and glucose 6-phosphatase and upregulation of the β-oxidation related carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1. Taken together, our results suggest that glabridin and glabridin-rich licorice extract would be effective anti-obesity agents.
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