Nobiletin — a citrus flavonoid found in tangerines and oranges — can increase weight loss, reduce obesity, and stop the development type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
A study examined the effect of the citrus flavonoid nobiletin in mice on a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet.
They found that administration of nobiletin made these mice lose weight.
They were leaner, responded better to insulin production, had lower blood sugar and blood fats than the others.
Past studies on mice have demonstrated that citrus flavonoids such as nobiletin and naringenin have the ability to decrease cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and type 2 diabetes.
Professor Murray Huff, study co-author, said:
“We went on to show that we can also intervene with nobiletin.
We’ve shown that in mice that already have all the negative symptoms of obesity, we can use nobelitin to reverse those symptoms, and even start to regress plaque build-up in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis.
The research team are still not sure how nobiletin can produce such positive health effects.
They thought it may be that the nobiletin molecule assists the AMP Kinase (AMPK) pathway in the body.
AMPK deals with fat in the body and decides whether to burn fat for energy or stop producing fats.
But nobiletin was still effective when the team injected nobiletin to genetically modified mice which had no AMPK in their body.
Professor Huff said:
“This result told us that nobiletin is not acting on AMP Kinase, and is bypassing this major regulator of how fat is used in the body.
What it still leaves us with is the question — how is nobiletin doing this?”
Despite this, clinically the results are still important because drugs for treating diabetes like metformin have to use the AMPK pathway and nobiletin doesn’t interfere with these medications.
Professor Huff concluded:
“Obesity and its resulting metabolic syndromes are a huge burden to our health care system, and we have very few interventions that have been shown to work effectively.
We need to continue this emphasis on the discovery of new therapeutics.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in the Journal of Lipid Research (Morrow et al., 2020).