Shiwani Moghe, MS, a graduate student at TWU, decided to evaluate whether blueberry polyphenols play a role in adipocyte differentiation, the process in which a relatively unspecialized cell acquires specialized features of an adipocyte, an animal connective tissue cell specialized for the synthesis and storage of fat.
“I wanted to see if using blueberry polyphenols could inhibit obesity at a molecular stage,” said Moghe. A polyphenol antioxidant is a type of antioxidant. Plant polyphenols have been shown to fight adipogenesis, which is the development of fat cells, and induce lipolysis, which is the breakdown of lipids/fat.
The main source of polyphenols is dietary, since they are found in a wide array of phytochemical-bearing foods, like apples, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, grapes, pears, plums, raspberries, and strawberries; and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, celery, onion and parsley are rich in polyphenols.
The study was performed in tissue cultures taken from mice. The polyphenols showed a dose-dependent suppression of adipocyte differentiation. The lipid content in the control group was significantly higher than the content of the tissue given three doses of blueberry polyphenols. The highest dose of blueberry polyphenols yielded a 73% decrease in lipids; the lowest dose showed a 27% decrease.
“We still need to test this dose in humans, to make sure there are no adverse effects, and to see if the doses are as effective. This is a burgeoning area of research. Determining the best dose for humans will be important,” said Moghe. “The promise is there for blueberries to help reduce adipose tissue from forming in the body.”
The preliminary results contribute more items to the laundry list of benefits related to blueberries, which have already been shown to mitigate health conditions like, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.