Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Momordica charantia (bitter melon) inhibits primary human adipocyte differentiation by modulating adipogenic genes

Pratibha V Nerurkar1*, Yun-Kung Lee1 and Vivek R Nerurkar2

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Metabolic Disorders and Alternative Medicine, Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 USA

2 Retrovirology Research Laboratory, Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:34  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-34

Published: 29 June 2010

Abstract

Background

Escalating trends of obesity and associated type 2 diabetes (T2D) has prompted an increase in the use of alternative and complementary functional foods. Momordica charantia or bitter melon (BM) that is traditionally used to treat diabetes and complications has been demonstrated to alleviate hyperglycemia as well as reduce adiposity in rodents. However, its effects on human adipocytes remain unknown. The objective of our study was to investigate the effects of BM juice (BMJ) on lipid accumulation and adipocyte differentiation transcription factors in primary human differentiating preadipocytes and adipocytes.

Methods

Commercially available cryopreserved primary human preadipocytes were treated with and without BMJ during and after differentiation. Cytotoxicity, lipid accumulation, and adipogenic genes mRNA expression was measured by commercial enzymatic assay kits and semi-quantitative RT-PCR (RT-PCR).

Results

Preadipocytes treated with varying concentrations of BMJ during differentiation demonstrated significant reduction in lipid content with a concomitant reduction in mRNA expression of adipocyte transcription factors such as, peroxisome proliferator-associated receptor γ (PPARγ) and sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c) and adipocytokine, resistin. Similarly, adipocytes treated with BMJ for 48 h demonstrated reduced lipid content, perilipin mRNA expression, and increased lipolysis as measured by the release of glycerol.

Conclusion

Our data suggests that BMJ is a potent inhibitor of lipogenesis and stimulator of lipolysis activity in human adipocytes. BMJ may therefore prove to be an effective complementary or alternative therapy to reduce adipogenesis in humans.