Labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum) attenuates insulin resistance in a diet-induced obesity mouse model.

Wed, 03/30/2016 - 13:22 -- Tracy Wysote
TitleLabrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum) attenuates insulin resistance in a diet-induced obesity mouse model.
Publication TypeResearch
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsOuchfoun M, Eid HM, Musallam L, Brault A, Li S, Vallerand D, Arnason JT, Haddad PS

PURPOSE: Using a diet-induced obesity (DIO) mouse model, we investigated the antidiabetic effect of Labrador tea [Rhododendron groenlandicum (Oeder) Kron and Judd], a beverage and medicinal tea used by the Cree Nations of northern Quebec.

METHODS: C57BL6 mice were divided into five groups and given standard chow (~4 % of lipids) or high-fat diet (~35 % of lipids) for 8 weeks until they became obese and insulin resistant. Treatment began by adding the plant extract at three doses (125, 250 and 500 mg/kg) to the high-fat diet for another 8 weeks. At the end of the study, insulin-sensitive tissues (liver, skeletal muscle, adipose tissue) were collected to investigate the plant's molecular mechanisms.

RESULTS: Labrador tea significantly reduced blood glucose (13 %), the response to an oral glucose tolerance test (18.2 %) and plasma insulin (65 %) while preventing hepatic steatosis (42 % reduction in hepatic triglyceride levels) in DIO mice. It stimulated insulin-dependent Akt pathway (55 %) and increased the expression of GLUT4 (53 %) in skeletal muscle. In the liver, Labrador tea stimulated the insulin-dependent Akt and the insulin-independent AMP-activated protein kinase pathways. The improvement in hepatic steatosis observed in DIO-treated mice was associated with a reduction in inflammation (through the IKK α/β) and a decrease in the hepatic content of SREBP-1 (39 %).

CONCLUSIONS: Labrador tea exerts potential antidiabetic action by improving insulin sensitivity and mitigating high-fat diet-induced obesity and hyperglycemia. They validate the safety and efficacy of this plant, a promising candidate for culturally relevant complementary treatment in Cree diabetics.

PubMed ID25916863