Microgram amounts of abscisic acid in fruit extracts improve glucose tolerance and reduce insulinemia in rats and in humans

FASEB J. 2015 Dec;29(12):4783-93. doi: 10.1096/fj.15-277731. Epub 2015 Aug 4.


2-Cis,4-trans-abscisic acid (ABA) is a plant hormone that is present also in animals. Several lines of evidence suggest that ABA contributes to the regulation of glycemia in mammals: nanomolar ABA stimulates insulin release from β-pancreatic cells and glucose transporter-4-mediated glucose uptake by myoblasts and adipocytes in vitro; plasma ABA increases in normal human subjects, but not in diabetic patients, after a glucose load for an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). The presence of ABA in fruits prompted an exploration of the bioavailability of dietary ABA and the effect of ABA-rich fruit extracts on glucose tolerance. Rats underwent an OGTT, with or without 1 µg/kg ABA, either synthetic or present in a fruit extract. Human volunteers underwent an OGTT or a standard breakfast and lunch, with or without a fruit extract, yielding an ABA dose of 0.85 or 0.5 µg/kg, respectively. Plasma glucose, insulin, and ABA were measured at different time points. Oral ABA at 0.5-1 µg/kg significantly lowered glycemia and insulinemia in rats and in humans. Thus, the glycemia-lowering effect of low-dose ABA in vivo does not depend on an increased insulin release. Low-dose ABA intake may be proposed as an aid to improving glucose tolerance in patients with diabetes who are deficient in or resistant to insulin.

Keywords: OGTT; apricots; plasma glucose; plasma insulin; standard B&L.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / isolation & purification
  • Abscisic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Male
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Young Adult


  • Insulin
  • Plant Extracts
  • Abscisic Acid