Type 2 diabetes is considered a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It has been shown that the risk of dying from heart disease is two to four times higher for patients with diabetes. This correlation could be attributed to the development of insulin resistance-induced hypertension, as well as elevated low density-lipoprotein cholesterol and blood sugar levels. In addition to this, high blood sugar level can also damage blood vessels and nerves involved in heart function. Because of this, it is crucial to find natural products that can alleviate symptoms for both diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Previous studies have shown that Arjun tree extracts have antidiabetic and cardiotonic effects. Although these have been proven by clinical trials, the molecular mechanisms behind them have not been elucidated prior to this study. Arjun tree extracts were observed to contain polyphenols like triterpenoids and gallic acid that had anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, which is why these were considered as potential mechanisms for the antidiabetic and cardiotonic effects.
In this study, the mechanism of action of Arjun tree extracts was determined through the evaluation of in vivo anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hyperlipidemic effects. The researchers used male Wistar rats that were given a high-fat diet as animal models for the study. The phytochemical content was initially determined for hydroalcoholic Arjun tree extracts. They observed that these extracts contained gallic acid, ellagic acid, and quercetin, which were also seen in previous studies.
For the evaluation of anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hyperlipidemic activities, the researchers determined glucose tolerance, serum composition, systolic blood pressure, and liver triglyceride content of the rats. It was observed that all of these were significantly improved in treated rats compared to those that were untreated.
Additionally, RNA levels were also evaluated to determine if there are changes in the expression levels of inflammatory and insulin sensitizer genes. Results showed that there was a decrease in the expression of the inflammatory gene tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in treated rats, leading to reduced inflammation. The researchers also observed an increase in the expression of insulin sensitizer genes, insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) and peroxisome proliferators-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1 alpha). Higher insulin resistance has been associated with inflammation so the increased insulin sensitivity adds to the anti-inflammatory effect of reduced TNF-alpha expression.
From these results, it can be determined that the molecular mechanism behind Arjun tree's anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hyperlipidemic effects involves the reduction of inflammation, which was brought about by alterations in inflammatory and insulin sensitizer gene expression. These prove that hydroalcoholic Arjun tree extracts can be used for the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which have been shown to be associated with each other. (Related: Gestational diabetes increases risk of cardiovascular disease; however, scientists also determined a healthy lifestyle helps mitigate that risk.)
Aside from herbal medicine, other treatments for diabetes include the following:
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