There is increasing interest in dietary chemicals that may provide benefits for pathologies such as diabetes and obesity. Capsaicinoids found in chili peppers and pepper extracts, are responsible for the "hot" or "spicy" sensation associated with these foods. Capsaicinoid consumption is also associated with enhanced metabolism, making them potentially therapeutic for metabolic disease by promoting weight loss. This review summarizes much of the current experimental evidence (ranging from basic to applied investigations) of the biochemical and molecular metabolic effects of capsaicinoids in metabolically significant cell types. Along with influencing metabolic rate, findings demonstrate capsaicinoids appear to alter molecular metabolic signaling, regulate hunger and satiety, blood metabolites, and catecholamine release. Notably, the majority of the experiments summarized herein utilized isolated supplemental or research grade capsaicinoids rather than natural food sources for experimental interventions. Additional work should be conducted using primary food sources of capsaicin to explore pharmacological, physiological, and metabolic benefits of both chronic and acute capsaicin consumption. © 2016 BioFactors, 42(3):229-246, 2016.
Keywords: chili/chilli/chile pepper; energy expenditure; obesity; satiety; uncoupling protein; weight loss.
© 2016 International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.