Effects of pregnane glycosides on food intake depend on stimulation of the melanocortin pathway and BDNF in an animal model

J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Feb 27;61(8):1841-9. doi: 10.1021/jf3033649. Epub 2013 Feb 17.


Pregnane glycosides appear to modulate food intake by possibly affecting the hypothalamic feeding circuits; however, the mechanisms of the appetite-regulating effect of pregnane glycosides remain obscure. Here, we show that pregnane glycoside-enriched extracts from swamp milkweed Asclepias incarnata at 25-100 mg/kg daily attenuated food intake (up to 47.1 ± 8.5% less than controls) and body weight gain in rats (10% for males and 9% for females, respectively) by activating melanocortin signaling and inhibiting gastric emptying. The major milkweed pregnane glycoside, ikemagenin, exerted its appetite-regulating effect by decreasing levels of agouti-related protein (0.6-fold) but not NPY satiety peptides. Ikemagenin treatment also increased secretion of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) downstream of melanocortin receptors in the hypothalamus (1.4-fold) and in the C6 rat glioma cell culture in vitro (up to 6-fold). These results support the multimodal effects of pregnane glycosides on feeding regulation, which depends on the activity of the melanocortin signaling pathway and BDNF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite / drug effects
  • Asclepias / chemistry*
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / genetics
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Eating / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Glycosides / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanocortins / metabolism*
  • Models, Animal
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnanes / administration & dosage*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Glycosides
  • Melanocortins
  • Plant Extracts
  • Pregnanes
  • pregnane glycoside