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Reduced adiposity in bitter melon (Momordica charantia) fed rats is associated with lower tissue triglyceride and higher plasma catecholamines

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 March 2007

Qixuan Chen
Food and Nutritional Science Program, Department of Zoology, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR, The, People's Republic of China
Edmund T. S. Li*
Food and Nutritional Science Program, Department of Zoology, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR, The, People's Republic of China
*Corresponding author: Dr Edmund T. S. Li, fax +852 2559 9114, email
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Slower weight gain and less visceral fat had been observed when rats fed a high-fat diet were supplemented with freeze-dried bitter melon (BM) juice; the metabolic consequences and possible mechanism(s) were further explored in the present study. In a 4-week experiment, rats were fed a low-fat (70 g/kg) or a high-fat (300 g/kg) diet with or without BM (7·5 g/kg or 0·75%). BM-supplemented rats had lower energy efficiency, visceral fat mass, plasma glucose and hepatic triacylglycerol, but higher serum free fatty acids and plasma catecholamines. In the second experiment, 7-week BM supplementation in high-fat diet rats led to a lowering of hepatic triacylglycerol (P<0·05) and steatosis score (P<0·05) similar to those in rats fed a low-fat diet. BM supplementation did not affect serum and hepatic cholesterol. However, plasma epinephrine and serum free fatty acid concentrations were increased (P<0·05). In the third experiment, BM(7·5 and 15 g/kg) and 1·5 % BM lowered triacylglycerol concentration in red gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior (P<0·05) muscle, but a dose–response effect was not observed. These data suggest that chronic BM feeding leads to a general decrease in tissue fat accumulation and that such an effect is mediated in part by enhanced sympathetic activity and lipolysis. BM or its bioactive ingredient(s) could be used as a dietary adjunct in the control of body weight and blood glucose.

Research Article
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2005


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