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Plant Hormone Controls Blood Sugar in Type 2 Diabetes

plant hormone controls blood sugar in type 2 diabetes

Better control of blood sugar in type 2 diabetes could come from a plant hormone, according to scientists in Italy. Low doses of this substance has been proven to reduce sugar levels in the blood of both mice and humans.


The plant hormone, known as abscisic acid, is found in leaves, green fruit, and stems of plants. It performs numerous critical roles concerning a plant’s survival, including water conservation (by regulating the openings [stomata] on the underside of leaves), helping seed germination, inducing storage of proteins, and may have a role in warding off pathogens.

Abscisic acid also is found in mammals, including humans. Prior research has suggested it may have anti-inflammatory properties and a role in type 2 diabetes through several means, one of which is an ability to stimulate the release of insulin from beta-pancreatic cells.

Plant hormone study
In this new study, conducted at the University of Genoa (Genova) School of Medicine in Genoa, Italy, scientists gave low doses of abscisic acid-rich vegetable extracts or placebo to both rats and humans. The rats also were challenged with a synthetic abscisic acid.

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Following administration of the three interventions, the rats underwent an oral glucose tolerance test. The human subjects underwent an OGTT or standard meals (breakfast and lunch) after the two interventions (abscisic acid-rich vegetable extract or placebo).

The scientists discovered that the abscisic acid-rich vegetable extract given at 0.5 to 1 ug/kg resulted in significantly lower blood sugar and insulinemia (abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood) in both rats and humans. They suggested that the ability of abscisic acid to lower blood sugar levels does not depend on an increased release of insulin.

In previous research published earlier in 2015, scientists evaluated the use of abscisic acid in nine individuals with type 2 diabetes who had not been treated previously for their condition, nine pregnant women with gestational diabetes, and 18 volunteers without diabetes. Their findings suggested a beneficial effect of elevated abscisic acid plasma levels on blood sugar control.

Based on these new findings and previous research, the authors noted that administering low doses of abscisic acid may help improve glucose tolerance in individuals with type 2 diabetes who are resistant to or deficient in insulin. Although more investigation is needed, this plant hormone may prove to be a more natural way to help control type 2 diabetes in the near future.

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Ameri P et al. Impaired increase of plasma abscisic acid in response to oral glucose load in type 2 diabetes and in gestational diabetes. PLoS One 2015 Feb 27; 10(2): e0115992
Magnone M et al. Microgram amounts of abscisic acid in fruit extracts improve glucose tolerance and reduce insulinemia in rats and in humans. The FASEB Journal 2015 Dec; 29:4783-93