Red peppers and red pepper paste are reported to have anti-obesity, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in animals and humans due to the capsaicin in red pepper. We investigated whether consuming capsaicin and capsiate, a nonpungent capsaicin analogue, modifies glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, pancreatic β-cell survival and insulin sensitivity in 90% pancreatectomized (Px) diabetic rats, a moderate and non-obese type 2 diabetic animal model. Px diabetic rats were divided into 3 treatment groups: 1) capsaicin (Px-CPA), 2) capsiate (Px-CPI) or 3) dextrose (Px-CON) and provided high fat diets (40 energy % fat) containing assigned components (0.025% capsaicin, capsiate, or dextrose) for 8 weeks. Both capsaicin and capsiate reduced body weight gain, visceral fat accumulation, serum leptin levels and improved glucose tolerance without modulating energy intake in diabetic rats. In comparison to the control, both capsaicin and capsiate potentiated first and second and phase insulin secretion during hyperglycemic clamp. Both also increased β-cell mass by increasing proliferation and decreasing apoptosis of β-cells by potentiating insulin/IGF-1 signaling. However, only capsiate enhanced hepatic insulin sensitivity during euglycemic hyperinuslinemic clamp. Capsiate reduced hepatic glucose output and increased triglyceride accumulation in the hyperinsulinemic state and capsiate alone significantly increased glycogen storage. This was related to enhanced pAkt→PEPCK and pAMPK signaling. Capsaicin and capsiate reduced triglyceride storage through activating pAMPK. In conclusion, capsaicin and capsiate improve glucose homeostasis but they differently enhance insulin sensitivity in the liver, insulin secretion patterns, and islet morphometry in diabetic rats. Capsiate has better anti-diabetic actions than capsaicin.
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