Cucurbitacin B Suppresses Hyperglycemia Associated with a High Sugar Diet and Promotes Sleep in Drosophila melanogaster

Mol Cells. 2021 Feb 28;44(2):68-78. doi: 10.14348/molcells.2021.2245.


Secondary metabolites enable plants to protect themselves from herbivorous insects. Among these, cucurbitacin B (cuc-B) is a bitter-tasting compound with promising pharmacological potential. Dietary exposure to cuc-B lowered the hemolymph glucose levels of Drosophila melanogaster fed with a high carbohydrate diet, which is homologous to high blood glucose in humans, and its effect was comparable to that of metformin, a well-known glucose-lowering drug. Furthermore, cuc-B reduced tissue sugar levels and glycogen levels, as well as triacylglycerol levels. Our results thus highlight the potential applicability of this compound to treat chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Additionally, we analyzed sleep quality and taste-associative memory enhancement after cuc-B and metformin treatment. Both supplements increased nighttime bout length and metformin increased memory consolidation. Therefore, discarded shell of Cucurbitaceae could be processed into health supplements.

Keywords: cucurbitacin B; hypoglycemia; memory; metformin; sleep.