Stimulatory effect of stevioside on peripheral mu opioid receptors in animals

Po Sheng Yang, Jie Jen Lee, Chiung Wen Tsao, Hung Tsung Wu, Juei Tang Cheng

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Stevioside is a dietary supplement widely used as a sweetener to prevent hyperglycemic disorders. However, the action mechanisms of this substance for glucose homeostasis remain obscure. In the present study, a dose-related plasma glucose reduction was observed in Wistar rats receiving intraperitoneally injections of stevioside. Similar to the regulation of glucose metabolism by the activation of mu opioid receptors, this action of stevioside was reversed by naloxonazine under the blockade of mu opioid receptors. We also found that stevioside increased glycogen synthesis in isolated hepatocytes, which was concentration-dependently blocked by naloxonazine. Stevioside did not modify the plasma beta-endorphin levels in Wistar rats but it directly increased the phosphorylation of mu opioid receptors in Chinese hamster ovary cells transfected with mu opioid receptors. Unlike morphine, chronic administration of stevioside did not induce the withdrawal signs in mice. Furthermore, stevioside by intraperitoneal injections did not influence the feeding behaviors of rats. By contrast, intracerebroventricular injections of stevioside increased the rats' food intake, which was also inhibited by pretreatment with naloxonazine. These results showed that it is difficult for stevioside to enter the brain. Stevioside has the ability to activate peripheral mu opioid receptors for lowering plasma glucose and to increase glycogen synthesis in liver. Thus, the stimulation of peripheral mu opioid receptors is responsible for the action of stevioside in the regulation of glucose homeostasis. Crown

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-75
Number of pages4
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 17 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Glucose utilization
  • Mu opioid receptors
  • Stevioside

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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