An antidiabetic nutraceutical combination of red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus), bitter gourd (Momordica charantia), and chromium alleviates dedifferentiation of pancreatic β cells in db/db mice

Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Oct 25;8(12):6718-6726. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.1966. eCollection 2020 Dec.


Antidiabetic properties of red yeast rice, bitter gourd, and chromium have gained scientific support. This study aimed to test whether a nutraceutical combination of these 3 materials prevented dedifferentiation of pancreatic β cells. Male db/db mice (8 weeks of age) were allocated into four groups (DB, DB/L, DB/M, and DB/H; n = 8-10) and fed a high-fat diet containing 0%, 0.2%, 0.4%, or 1% nutraceutical, respectively, whereas wild-type mice receiving a standard diet served as a healthy control (C; n = 10). The nutraceutical contained 10 mg/g monacolin K, 165 µg/g chromium, and 300 mg/g bitter gourd. After 8-weeks dietary treatment, diabetic syndromes (including hyperglycemia, hyperphagia, excessive drinking, polyuria, glucosuria, albuminuria, and glucose intolerance), were improved by the nutraceutical in a dose-dependent fashion. Decreased insulin and increased glucagon in serum and pancreatic islets in db/db mice were abolished in the DB/H group. Furthermore, supplementation curtailed dedifferentiation of β cells, as evidenced by decreasing the dedifferentiation marker (Aldh1a3) and increasing β-cell-enriched genes and transcription factors (Ins1, Ins2, FOXO1, and NKX6.1), as well as nuclear localization of NKX6.1 in pancreatic islets when compared to the DB group. We concluded that this nutraceutical, a combination of Monascus purpureus, Momordica charantia, and chromium, could be used as an adjunct for type 2 diabetes treatment and delay disease progression by sustaining β-cell function.

Keywords: Momordica charantia; Monascus purpureus; chromium; db/db mice; type 2 diabetes; β cell dedifferentiation.