New research suggests that xanthohumol, a naturally occurring prenylated flavonoid found in hops and beer significantly improves certain biologic markers of metabolic syndrome in mice.
Don’t reach for a beer just yet as the concentrations found in beer are far too small to be a benefit. It would require drinking 3,500 pints of beer per day to ingest this amount, which can otherwise be readily obtained by administration of supplements.
The findings render possible the development of new alternative approaches to glucose management and lipid metabolism, two key aspects of diabetes.
The benefits of flavonoids – previously found in tea, garlic, chocolate, apples and blueberries – on memory, thinking, or more recently, pancreatic cancer is well-documented.
Researchers at Oregon State University have now also demonstrated the positive effect these polyphenols have in reducing cholesterol, blood sugar and weight gain.
The research study – published in a special issue of Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics – looked at the metabolic rate of mice fed a high-fat diet supplemented with varying levels of xanthohumol, compared to animals given none of the supplement.
They observed in the first group a reduction of 80 per cent in LDL cholesterol, an insulin production cut of 42 per cent and 78 per cent decrease in levels of inflammation marker IL-6.
Additionally, and despite eating the same calorie dense regimen, mice on xanthohumol experienced 22 per cent less weight gain than the control group.
It is believed that xanthohumol attenuates weight gain by lowering fasting plasma glucose as well as improving mitochondrial beta oxidation and lipid homeostasis.
The synthesis of xanthohumol analogues for the development of very low-cost treatment for metabolic syndrome and protection against oxidative damage is already coming into focus but demands further research into the safety and efficacy of using 15 to 30 times higher doses in humans, explains Fred Stevens, a professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy and corresponding author on the research.
Estimated levels of the compound needed to trigger mechanisms of action like the decrease in the plasma levels of PCSK9 – a protein involved in the clearance of LDL, the bad form of cholesterol, from the blood – amounts to 60 milligrams per kilograms of bodyweight per day, which corresponds to a human equivalent dose of 350 milligrams per day for a 70 kilograms person.
Pharmacologically relevant concentrations cannot be reached by consumption of beer alone. However, scientists believe they are now able to isolate flavonoid which could be used in beneficial quantities as a supplement.

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