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Background: Plant-derived phytochemicals have been of emerging interest as anti-obesity compounds due to their apparent effects on promoting reduced lipid accumulation in adipocytes. Despite such promising evidence, little is known about the potential mechanisms behind their anti-obesity effects. The aim of this study is to establish potential anti-obesity effects of the phytochemical guggulsterone (GS). Methods: Mature 3T3-L1 adipocytes were treated with GS, derived from the guggul plant native in northern India, to investigate its effects on mitochondrial biogenesis and adipocyte "beiging." Further, to explore the relationship between macrophages and adipocytes, 3T3-L1s were treated with conditioned media from GS-treated RAW264.7 macrophages. Markers of mitochondrial biogenesis and beiging were measured by western blot. Results: GS treatment in adipocytes resulted in increased mitochondrial density, biogenesis (PGC1α and PPARγ), and increased markers of a beige adipocyte phenotype (UCP1, TBX1, and β-3AR). This upregulation in mitochondrial expression was accompanied by increases oxygen consumption. In GS-treated macrophages, markers of M2 polarization were elevated (e.g., arginase and IL-10), along with increased catecholamine release into the media. Lastly, 3T3-L1 adipocytes treated with conditioned media from macrophages induced a 167.8% increase in UCP1 expression, suggestive of a role of macrophages in eliciting an anti-adipogenic response to GS. Conclusions: Results from this study provide the first mechanistic understanding of the anti-obesity effects of GS and suggests a role for both direct GS-signaling and indirect stimulation of M2 macrophage polarization in this model.

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This article was published in Medicines, Volume 6, Issue 1.

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