Could traditional Chinese medicine hold an answer to the obesity problem?

Obesity might be a very modern problem, but a team of scientists from Taiwan and China is turning to the age-old principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to help fight it.  Breaking research published in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics indicates a possible new direction for the treatment of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome, a collective disorder characterised by obesity and multiple clinical disorders, is on the rise. Obesity itself is an endocrine disease caused by the body's inability to handle excessive energy intake. It can lead to serious like hypertension, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, stroke and type-2 diabetes.

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are key regulators of lipid and ; they are involved in regulating many physiological functions initiated by nutrients, nutraceuticals and phytochemicals. There are three subtypes of PPARs – PPAR-a, PPAR-g and PPAR-∂ –which all play important roles. Because of these roles, the three are also important for treating metabolic syndrome.

TCM compounds have long been recognised as potential lead candidates in creating anti-viral, anti-tumour and anti-inflammation agents. To see whether they might also be used to design agonists targeting PPAR-a, PPAR-g, and PPAR-∂ in the fight against metabolic disease, the researchers consulted the TCM Database@Taiwan, which lists more than 30,000 small-molecule compounds of TCM origin. The team ran a series of models and simulations to virtually screen the database, establishing structure-based pharmacore models for each PPAR protein in order to identify the key actions during docking; and homology modelling were also performed. The results, published in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, identify two TCM compounds as potential lead compounds in developing agonists targeting multiple PPARs: (S)-tryptophan-betaxanthin and berberrubine. Further research is needed, but the current study points to an exciting new direction for the treatment of metabolic syndrome.

More information: Chen, K. et al. Three-in-one agonists for PPAR-α, PPAR-γ, and PPAR-δ from traditional Chinese medicine, Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, Volume 30, Issue 6, 2012, DOI: 10.1080/07391102.2012.689699

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists uncover novel anti-diabetes mechanism

Jul 21, 2010

In a joint study, scientists from The Scripps Research Institute and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University have uncovered a novel mechanism that dramatically increases insulin sensitivity and reduces the ...

Protein target for diabetes drug regulates blood pressure

Mar 04, 2008

University of Iowa researchers have identified a molecular pathway in blood vessels that controls blood pressure and vascular function and may help explain why certain drugs for type II diabetes also appear to lower patients' ...

A potential therapeutic target for colon cancer

May 10, 2010

A research team from China investigated the association between peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ) gene polymorphism 34 C>G and colorectal cancer (CRC) through a meta-analysis. They found PPAR-γ ...

Recommended for you

Biologists reprogram skin cells to mimic rare disease

4 hours ago

Johns Hopkins stem cell biologists have found a way to reprogram a patient's skin cells into cells that mimic and display many biological features of a rare genetic disorder called familial dysautonomia. ...

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

Aug 20, 2014

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

Aug 20, 2014

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

User comments