According to several population-based studies, betel nut chewing is associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes in British South Asians and Taiwanese. However, the underlying molecular mechanism is not yet clear. Arecoline is an alkaloid-type natural product found in betel nuts. Our aim was to clarify the influence of betel nut extract and arecoline on lipid accumulation and insulin signaling in adipocytes. We found that betel nut extract and arecoline blocked lipid storage in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. The possible mechanism may function by inhibiting the expression of the insulin receptor, glucose transporter-4, fatty acid synthase, and the lipid droplet proteins perilipin and adipophilin. In addition, betel nut extract and arecoline increased the basal level of IRS-1 serine 307 phosphorylation and decreased insulin-stimulated IRS-1 tyrosine, Akt, and PI3 kinase phosphorylation. In conclusion, betel nut extract and arecoline have diabetogenic potential on adipocytes that may result in insulin resistance and diabetes at least in part via the obstruction of insulin signaling and the blockage of lipid storage.
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