Black pepper compound fights fat

Reprinted with permission of Life Extension 

In the April 18, 2012 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Korean researchers report that piperine, a pungent compound found in black pepper (Piper nigrum), helps block the formation of new fat cells, a process known as adipogenesis.

“Adipogenesis is a well-organized process regulated by adipogenic transcription factors, such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-gamma), sterol regulatory element binding protein (SREBP) family, and CCAAT-enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) family,” the authors write in their introduction. “Of these factors, PPAR-gamma has been focused on its role in adipocyte differentiation. In addition to being induced during adipogenesis, it is both necessary and sufficient for the process.”

In addition to other benefits such as enhancing nutrient absorption in the digestive tract, black pepper has been found to reduce blood glucose and lipids. In the current study, Soo-Jong Um, Ji-Cheon Jeong and colleagues tested the effects of black pepper extract and piperine on cultured preadipocytes and found that both inhibited the cells’ differentiation into mature fat cells. Expression of the genes for PPAR-gamma, SREBP-1c and C/EBP-beta were all found to be decreased, as was the binding of PPAR-gamma to a coactivator known as CREB-binding protein following the administration of either treatment. Piperine was also shown to repress LXR-alpha, another transcriptional factor that is involved in the induction of adipogenesis as well as the synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids.

“Taken together, our findings suggest that piperine, a major component of black pepper, inhibits fat cell differentiation by down-regulating the transcriptional activity of PPAR-gamma (and LXR-alpha) and suppressing the expression of PPAR-gamma (and LXR-alpha), thus leading to its potential use in the treatment of obesity-related diseases,” the authors conclude.

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