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Phenolic Compounds from Maté (Ilex paraguariensis) Inhibit Adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 Preadipocytes

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Leaves of Ilex paraguariensis are used to prepare a tea known as maté which is a common beverage in several South American countries. The ethanol extract was fractionated to identify the compounds responsible for the anti-adipogenic activity in 3T3-L1 cells. Extracts of both fresh and dried maté leaves were subjected to column chromatography using molecular permeation to obtain the saponin (20 % yields) and the polyphenol extracts (40 % yields) from the fresh and dried leaves. The phenolic content was determined using high-performance liquid chromatography analysis and the Folin-Ciocalteau method. Also, maté extracts (50 μg/ml to 1,000 μg/ml) did not display citotoxicity using MTT. The polyphenol extract from the dried leaves was the most effective (50 μg/ml) in the inhibition of triglyceride accumulation in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, and rutin (100 μg/ml) likely accounted for a large portion of this activity. Additionally, maté extracts had a modulatory effect on the expression of genes related to the adipogenesis as PPARγ2, leptin, TNF-α and C/EBPα.

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Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium




Tumor necrosis factor-alpha


Fresh leaf ethanol extract


Dried leaf ethanol extract


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We are grateful to the Brazilian agencies: Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for fellowships and financial support.

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Correspondence to Grace Gosmann or Marcelo Lima Ribeiro.

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Gosmann, G., Barlette, A.G., Dhamer, T. et al. Phenolic Compounds from Maté (Ilex paraguariensis) Inhibit Adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 Preadipocytes. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 67, 156–161 (2012).

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