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Open Access Research article

Effects of rhaponticum carthamoides versus glycyrrhiza glabra and punica granatum extracts on metabolic syndrome signs in rats

Michael Dushkin12*, Marina Khrapova1, Gennadiy Kovshik2, Marina Chasovskikh1, Elena Menshchikova3, Valeriy Trufakin2, Anna Shurlygina2 and Evgeniy Vereschagin1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Therapeutic Diseases, Institute of Internal Medicine, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia

2 Institute of Physiology and Fundamental Medicine, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia

3 Center of Clinical and Experimental Medicine of Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Medical Science, Novosibirsk, Russia

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:33  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-33

Published: 20 January 2014



Rhaponticum cathamoides (RC) is an endemic wild Siberian herb with marked medicinal properties that are still poorly understood. The aim of this study is to investigate the therapeutic potential of RC extract (ERC) compared to the effects of Glycyrrhiza glabra (EGG) and Punica granatum extracts (EPG) in a rat model with high-fat diet-(HFD)-induced signs of metabolic syndrome; therefore, this study addresses a significant global public health problem.


Six-month-old male Wistar Albino Glaxo rats were subjected to eight weeks of a standard diet (SD), HFD, or HFD in which ERC, EGG, or EPG powders were incorporated at 300 mg/kg/day. The serum lipid profile, corticosterone and cytokine concentrations, glucose tolerance, systolic blood pressure, triacylglycerol accumulation, and PPARα DNA-binding activities in the liver samples were determined.


In contrast to EGG and EPG, an ERC supplement significantly reduced the weight of epididymal tissue (19.0%, p < 0.01) and basal serum glucose level (19.4%, p < 0.05). ERC improved glucose intolerance as well as dyslipidemia more efficiently than EGG and EPG. EGG but not ERC or EPG supplementation decreased systolic blood pressure by 12.0% (p < 0.05). All of the tested extracts reduced serum IL6 and corticosterone levels induced by HFD. However, the lowering effects of ERC consumption on the serum TNF-α level and its restoring effect on the adrenal corticosterone level significantly exceeded the improvements induced by EGG and EPG. ERC intake also reduced triacylglycerol accumulation and increased the PPARα DNA-binding activity in the liver more significantly than EGG and EPG.


ERC powder supplementation improved glucose and lipid metabolism more significantly than EGG and EPG in rats fed on HFD, supporting the strategy of R. carthamoides use for safe relief of metabolic syndrome and its related disturbances such as inflammation, stress, and hepatic steatosis.

Rhaponticum carthamoides; Metabolic syndrome; Corticosterone; Inflammatory cytokines