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Liver steatosis and insulin-resistance : reversal by Sutherlandia frutescens

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is rapidly emerging as one of the greatest global health issues of the 21st century. Insulin-resistance is a condition associated with T2DM and in the cell it is defined as the inadequate strength of insulin signalling from the insulin receptor downstream to the final substrates of insulin action involved in multiple metabolic, gene expression, and mitogenic aspects of cellular function. To investigate the potential mechanisms involved in the development of insulin-resistance, two in vitro liver cell models were established using palmitate or a combination of insulin and fructose as inducers. The development of insulin-resistance was determined via the capacity of the hepatocytes to maintain normal glucose metabolism functionality by measuring hepatic gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis. It was established that the treatments induced the development of insulinresistance after 24 hours chronic exposure. Previous studies have investigated the potential of Sutherlandia frutescens extracts as therapeutic agents for insulin-resistance. The aim of this study was thus to investigate the ability of a hot aqueous extract of S. frutescens to reverse the insulin-resistant state, via measuring gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis, the associated changes in cellular physiology (lipid accumulation, oxidative stress, and acetyl- CoA levels), and changes in mRNA expression. The results showed that S. frutescens had a significant effect on reversing the insulin-resistant state in both models of insulin-resistance. Furthermore, S. frutescens was capable of reducing lipid accumulation in the form of triacylglycerol in the high insulin/fructose model, while this was unaffected in the palmitate model. However, S. frutescens did reduce the accumulation of diacylglycerol in the palmitate model. Oxidative stress, seen to be associated with the insulin-resistant state, was successfully treated using the extract, as indicated by a reduction in reactive oxygen species. However no change was seen in the nitric oxide levels, in either model. Interestingly, although S. frutescens had no effect on the level of acetyl-CoA in the insulin/fructose model, it was found to increase this in the palmitate model. It is suggested that this may be due to increased β-oxidation and metabolic activity induced by the extract. The analysis of mRNA expression gave some insight into possible mechanisms by which insulin-resistance develops, although the results were inconclusive due to high variability in samples and the possibility of the RNA being compromised. Future studies will address this issue. The results of this study reflect different proposed clinical causes of insulin-resistance through the responses seen in the two cell models. These indicate that liver steatosis and insulin-resistance are induced by high palmitate as well as high insulin and fructose levels, and reversed by S. frutescens. Therefore the potential of S. frutescens to be used as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of insulin-resistance is indicated by this study.
Date January 2014
CreatorsClarke, Stephen
PublisherNelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Faculty of Science
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeThesis, Masters, MSc
Formatx, 90 leaves, pdf
RightsNelson Mandela Metropolitan University

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