Rev Diabet Stud, 2016, 13(2-3):96-112 DOI 10.1900/RDS.2016.13.96

Chemical and Biological Aspects of Extracts from Medicinal Plants with Antidiabetic Effects

Lucas F. Gushiken, Fernando P. Beserra, Ariane L. Rozza, Patrícia L. Bérgamo, Danilo A. Bérgamo, Claudia H. Pellizzon

Laboratory of Experimentation of Natural Products (LENP), Department of Morphology, Institute of Biosciences of Botucatu, Unesp, 18618-970 Botucatu/SP, Brazil
Address correspondence to: Claudia H. Pellizzon, e-mail:


Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease and a leading cause of death in western countries. Despite advancements in the clinical management of the disease, it is not possible to control the late complications of diabetes. The main characteristic feature of diabetes is hyperglycemia, which reflects the deterioration in the use of glucose due to a faulty or poor response to insulin secretion. Alloxan and streptozotocin (STZ) are the chemical tools that are most commonly used to study the disease in rodents. Many plant species have been used in ethnopharmacology or to treat experimentally symptoms of this disease. When evaluated pharmacologically, most of the plants employed as antidiabetic substances have been shown to exhibit hypoglycemic and antihyperglycemic activities, and to contain chemical constituents that may be used as new antidiabetic agents. There are many substances extracted from plants that offer antidiabetic potential, whereas others may result in hypoglycemia as a side effect due to their toxicity, particularly their hepatotoxicity. In this article we present an updated overview of the studies on extracts from medicinal plants, relating the mechanisms of action by which these substances act and the natural principles of antidiabetic activity.

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Rev Diabet Stud, 2016, 13(2-3):113-131 DOI 10.1900/RDS.2016.13.113

The Physiological Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) in Type 2 Diabetes

Fonyuy E. Wirngo, Max N. Lambert, Per B. Jeppesen

Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Tage-Hansens Gade 2, DK-8000 C, Denmark
Address correspondence to: Per B. Jeppesen, e-mail:


The tremendous rise in the economic burden of type 2 diabetes (T2D) has prompted a search for alternative and less expensive medicines. Dandelion offers a compelling profile of bioactive components with potential anti-diabetic properties. The Taraxacum genus from the Asteraceae family is found in the temperate zone of the Northern hemisphere. It is available in several areas around the world. In many countries, it is used as food and in some countries as therapeutics for the control and treatment of T2D. The anti-diabetic properties of dandelion are attributed to bioactive chemical components; these include chicoric acid, taraxasterol (TS), chlorogenic acid, and sesquiterpene lactones. Studies have outlined the useful pharmacological profile of dandelion for the treatment of an array of diseases, although little attention has been paid to the effects of its bioactive components on T2D to date. This review recapitulates previous work on dandelion and its potential for the treatment and prevention of T2D, highlighting its anti-diabetic properties, the structures of its chemical components, and their potential mechanisms of action in T2D. Although initial research appears promising, data on the cellular impact of dandelion are limited, necessitating further work on clonal β-cell lines (INS-1E), α-cell lines, and human skeletal cell lines for better identification of the active components that could be of use in the control and treatment of T2D. In fact, extensive in-vitro, in-vivo, and clinical research is required to investigate further the pharmacological, physiological, and biochemical mechanisms underlying the effects of dandelion-derived compounds on T2D.

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Rev Diabet Stud, 2016, 13(2-3):132-147 DOI 10.1900/RDS.2016.13.132

Pancreas Volume and Fat Deposition in Diabetes and Normal Physiology: Consideration of the Interplay Between Endocrine and Exocrine Pancreas

Yoshifumi Saisho

Department of Internal Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan


The pancreas is comprised of exocrine and endocrine components. Despite the fact that they are derived from a common origin in utero, these two compartments are often studied individually because of the different roles and functions of the exocrine and endocrine pancreas. Recent studies have shown that not only type 1 diabetes (T1D), but also type 2 diabetes (T2D), is characterized by a deficit in beta-cell mass, suggesting that pathological changes in the pancreas are critical events in the natural history of diabetes. In both patients with T1D and those with T2D, pancreas mass and exocrine function have been reported to be reduced. On the other hand, pancreas volume and pancreatic fat increase with obesity. Increased beta-cell mass with increasing obesity has also been observed in humans, and ectopic fat deposits in the pancreas have been reported to cause beta-cell dysfunction. Moreover, neogenesis and transdifferentiation from the exocrine to the endocrine compartment in the postnatal period are regarded as a source of newly formed beta-cells. These findings suggest that there is important interplay between the endocrine and exocrine pancreas throughout life. This review summarizes the current knowledge on physiological and pathological changes in the exocrine and endocrine pancreas (i.e., beta-cell mass), and discusses the potential mechanisms of the interplay between the two compartments in humans to understand the pathophysiology of diabetes better.

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