Sarcopoterium spinosum extract as an antidiabetic agent: In vitro and in vivo study

Polina Smirin, Dvir Taler, Guila Abitbol, Tamar Brutman-Barazani, Zohar Kerem, Sanford R. Sampson, Tovit Rosenzweig

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Ethnopharmacological relevance: Sarcopoterium spinosum (L.) sp., a common plant in the Mediterranean region, is widely used as an antidiabetic drug by Bedouin healers. However, the antidiabetic properties of Sarcopoterium spinosum had not been fully validated using scientific tools. Aim of the study: To determine the effectiveness of Sarcopoterium spinosum extract as an antidiabetic agent in vitro and in vivo. Materials and methods: RINm pancreatic β-cells, L6 myotubes, 3T3-L1 adipocytes and AML-12 hepatocytes were treated with an aqueous Sarcopoterium spinosum extract (0.001-10mg/ml). The effect of the extract on specific physiological functions, including insulin secretion, pancreatic β-cell viability, GSK3β phosphorylation, lipolysis and glucose uptake was measured. In vivo studies were performed using KK-Ay mice, given the extract for several weeks. IPGTT was performed, and plasma insulin, FFA, food consumption and body weight were measured. In addition, diabetic KK-Ay mice were given a single dose of the extract, and IPGTT was performed. Results: Sarcopoterium spinosum extract increased basal and glucose/forskolin-induced insulin secretion in RINm cells, and increased cell viability. The extract inhibited lipolysis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, and induced glucose uptake in these cells as well as in AML-12 hepatocytes and L6 myotubes. GSK3β phosphorylation was also induced in L6 myotubes, suggesting increased glycogen synthesis. Sarcopoterium spinosum extract had a preventive effect on the progression of diabetes in KK-Ay mice. Catechin and epicatechin were detected in Sarcopoterium spinosum extract using hyphenated LC-MS/MS. Conclusions: Sarcopoterium spinosum extract has effects that mimic those of insulin and provide the basis for antidiabetic activity of the extract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Ethnopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Cathechin
  • Diabetes
  • KK-A mice
  • Medicinal plant
  • Sarcopoterium spinosum (L.) sp.


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