Antiobesity activity

Obesity may be defined as an excessive body weight in the form of fat (Kong et al., 2009). It is one of the greatest public health challenges in the first half of this century (Inoue et al., 2000). A number of studies indicated that obesity is associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, certain forms of cancer, and sleep-breathing disorder (Kopelman, 2000; Lee et al., 2005; Mokdad et al., 2003; Pi-Sunyer, 2002). Moreover, obesity (from teen to seniors) continues to increase in many industrialized and developing countries, which cause a worrying health trend (Kelishadi, 2007). Therefore, the necessity of discovering alternative sources of antiobesity has arisen with interesting demand for safer anti-obesity agents.

A research group from Japan reported that oral treatment with fuco-xanthin significantly reduced the abdominal white adipose tissue (WAT) weight of obese mice model, KKAy female mice and normal mice fed with a high-fat diet (Maeda et al., 2005,2007a,b, 2008). Moreover, no reductions on normal mice fed with normal diet were found. Those results suggest that fucoxanthin specifically suppresses adiposity in the obese mice. WAT is the predominant type of adipose tissue and commonly called ''fat'' in mammals (Trayhurn and Wood, 2005). Besides its role in energy storage, WAT is now recognized as an endocrine and active secretory organ through its production of biologically active mediators termed, adipokines (Curat et al., 2006). Most studies reported that antiobesity effect of fucoxanthin was mainly mediated by the expression of uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1) gene in visceral adipose tissues which lead to the induction of thermogenesis in adipose tissue and dissipating excess energy intake as heat to resist body weight gain (Mercader et al., 2010; Woo et al., 2009). Recent clinical study carried by Abidov et al. (2010) clearly showed antiobesity effect of xanthi-gen, an antiobesity supplement which consists of fucoxanthin and pomegranate seeds oil. In their study, they demonstrated that xanthigen promoted weight loss, reduced body and liver fat content, and improved liver function tests in obese nondiabetic women (Abidov et al., 2010).

Since the excessive growth of adipose tissue in obesity has been suggested to result from adipocyte hypertrophy and the recruitment of new adipocytes from precursor cells, regulation of adipogenesis also appears to be a potential strategy for the treatment of obesity (Wang et al., 2008). Fucoxanthin isolated from U. pinnatifida and its metabolite fucoxanthinol have been reported to inhibit the differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes into adipocytes (Hayato et al., 2006). The inhibitory effect of fucoxanthin and fucoxanthinol on adipocyte differentiation might be mediated through the downregulation of adipogenic transcription factors, such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-g. Structure suppressive effect on adipocyte differentiation has been reported by Okada et al. (2008). In their study, they used 13 naturally occurring carotenoids found in human diet. Interestingly, carotenoids with keto group, epoxy group, hydroxyl carotenoid, epoxy-hydroxy carotenoid, and keto-hydroxy carotenoid did not show suppressive effect on adypocite differentiation. Meanwhile, treatment with fucoxanthin and neoxanthin showed significant suppressive effect suggesting that allenic bond is crucial factor for the antiobesity effect. Moreover, the result of those studies leads to the hypothesis that other carotenoid with an allenic group and an additional hydroxyl group in the end may also effective in suppressing adipocyte differentiation.

Taken together, fucoxanthin has a potential to be used in food and pharmaceuticals in the treatment or prevention of obesity as they may act as a regulator of lipid metabolism in fat tissues. There are numerous advantages of fucoxanthin derived from marine algae to be used in functional foods and pharmaceuticals, such as relatively low production costs, low cytotoxicity, safety, and wide acceptability. Further, fucoxan-thin derived from marine algae may be considered as a promising food supplement, slimming supplement, and drug in the prevention and management of obesity.

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