Reactive oxygen species generated as a by-product in metabolism play a central role in the development of obesity and obesity-related metabolic complications. The objective of the current study is to explore the possibility to block obesity and improve metabolic homeostasis via phloretin, a natural antioxidant product from apple tree leaves and Manchurian apricot. Both preventive and therapeutic activities of phloretin were assessed using a high-fat diet-induced obesity mouse model. Phloretin was injected intraperitoneally twice weekly into regular and obese mice fed a high-fat diet. The effects of phloretin treatment on body weight and composition, fat content in the liver, glucose and lipid metabolism, and insulin resistance were monitored and compared to the control animals. Phloretin treatment significantly blocks high-fat diet-induced weight gain but did not induce weight loss in obese animals. Phloretin improved glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity and alleviated hepatic lipid accumulation. RT-PCR analysis showed that phloretin treatment suppresses expression of macrophage markers (F4/80 and Cd68) and pro-inflammatory genes (Mcp-1 and Ccr2) and enhances adiponectin gene expression in white adipose tissue. In addition, phloretin treatment elevated the expression of fatty acid oxidation genes such as carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1a and 1b (Cpt1a and Cpt1b) and reduced expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (Mcp-1), de novo lipogenesis transcriptional factor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ 2 (Pparγ2), and its target monoacylglycerol O-acyltransferase (Mgat-1) genes. These results provide direct evidence to support a possible use of phloretin for mitigation of obesity and maintenance of metabolic homeostasis.
Keywords: antioxidant; inflammation; insulin resistance; obesity; phloretin.