Dietary licorice root supplementation reduces diet-induced weight gain, lipid deposition, and hepatic steatosis in ovariectomized mice without stimulating reproductive tissues and mammary gland

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Feb;60(2):369-80. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201500445. Epub 2015 Nov 10.


Scope: We studied the impact of dietary supplementation with licorice root components on diet-induced obesity, fat accumulation, and hepatic steatosis in ovariectomized C57BL/6 mice as a menopause model.

Materials and methods: We evaluated the molecular and physiological effects of dietary licorice root administered to ovariectomized C57BL/6 mice as root powder (LRP), extracts (LRE), or isolated isoliquiritigenin (ILQ) on reproductive (uterus and mammary gland) and nonreproductive tissues important in regulating metabolism (liver, perigonadal, perirenal, mesenteric, and subcutaneous fat). Quantitative outcome measures including body weight, fat distribution (magnetic resonance imaging), food consumption, bone density and weight (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), and gene expression were assessed by the degree of restoration to the preovariectomized health state. We characterized histological (H&E and oil red O staining) and molecular properties (expression of certain disease markers) of these tissues, and correlated these with metabolic phenotype as well as blood levels of bioactives.

Conclusion: Although LRE and ILQ provided some benefit, LRP was the most effective in reducing body weight gain, overall fat deposition, liver steatosis, and expression of hepatic lipid synthesis genes following ovariectomy. Our data demonstrate that licorice root provided improvement of multiple metabolic parameters under conditions of low estrogen and high-fat diets without stimulating reproductive tissues.

Keywords: Botanical estrogens; Dietary supplements; Estrogen receptor; Licorice root; Menopause; Metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Animals
  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Flavanones / pharmacology
  • Glycyrrhiza / chemistry*
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / drug effects*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / diet therapy*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Uterus / drug effects
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • Flavanones
  • liquiritigenin