The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 12 No. 1 • Feb. 2009

Phenolic Compounds Rutin and o-Coumaric Acid
Ameliorate Obesity Induced by High Fat Diet in Rats

One of us (Sandy) has two pet female rats (Queen and Tiny) and, while it is a lot of fun (because they are soooooo appreciative) to feed them a cafeteria style diet (lots of variety), you have to be very careful about limiting fat and calories so they do not become fat. Rats have short lifespans as it is and obesity will just increase the risk that they die young (probably of cancer). We report here a study showing that increasing the dietary content of the phenolic compounds rutin or o-coumaric acid reduced the obesity-inducing effect of a high fat diet in rats. Take note, Queen and Tiny . . . (munching in the background).

A number of studies have reported beneficial effects of phenolic compounds in reducing the risks of high fat diets in humans and other animals, including red wine polyphenols, antioxidants, and gallic acid.1 A recent in vitro study1 showed that the phenolic compounds rutin and o-coumaric acid inhibited intracellular triglyceride and glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GPDH) activity the best among the 15 phenolic acids and 6 flavonoids that were tested. “GPDH occupies a central position in the triglyceride synthesis pathway . . . . Our previous study also indicates that antioxidants (capsaicin, rutin, and o-coumaric acid) can inhibit GPDH in 3T3-L1 adipocytes [fat cells].”2 The authors1 also reported that the phenolics inhibited the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma, an important mediator of increased adipocyte production), CCAT/enhancer-binding proteins (involved in the regulation of growth, differentiation, and inflammation), and leptin (a hormone product of adipocytes, found at elevated levels in the obese).

In their in vivo study,2 the researchers divided Wistar rats into normal and obese groups. The obese rats were then prefed a high fat diet (HFD, 40% beef tallow) for four weeks following which the normal rats received the ND (normal diet) for 8 weeks, while the obese group was fed the HFD plus R (rutin, either low or high dose), or HFD plus oCA (o-coumaric acid, either low or high dose) for 8 weeks. The high doses were 100 mg/kg, while the low doses were 50 mg/kg (roughly equivalent to 1 to 2 grams per day for an adult human).

Body weight was significantly increased (21%) in the HFD group as compared to the ND group, whereas there was a significant decrease in the increased body weight in the HFD plus R and the HFD plus oCA groups, both low and high doses, as compared to the HFD group. The weights of the liver and adipose tissue in the HFD plus R and HFD plus oCA were significantly decreased as compared to those of the HFD group.

Oxidative stress was significantly reduced in the HFD plus R and the HFD plus oCA as compared to the HFD group. For example, by the end of the study, the reduced glutathione level, an important marker of antioxidant capacity, was 3.38 ± 0.20 µmol/mg protein (ND) as compared to 0.77 ± 0.07 µmol/mg protein (HFD), but was 3.03 ± 0.35 (HFD plus R, high dose), 2.6 ± 0.3 (HFD plus oCA, high dose), 1.54 ± 0.15 HFD plus R, low dose), and 1.4 ± 0.1 (HFD plus oCA, low dose). MDA (malondialdehyde, a product of lipid peroxidation) was increased by the HFD (13.1 ± 1.7 nmol/mg protein) as compared to the ND (2.8 ± 0.9 nmol/mg protein), but that increase was attenuated by the addition of rutin or o-coumaric acid to the HFD: HFD plus R (low dose), 12.0 ± 1.2; HFD plus R (high dose), 7.7 ± 0.9; HFD plus oCA (low dose), 11.3 ± 1.1; HFD plus oCA (high dose), 9.7 ± 0.9.

Antioxidant enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and glutathione-s-transferase showed 35, 57, and 40% reductions, respectively, in the HFD group as compared to the ND group, whereas those enzymes in the HFD plus R and HFD plus oCA groups were significantly increased as compared to those in the HFD group.

We highly recommend increased dietary intake and supplementation of rutin. While we do not yet offer o-coumaric acid in any of our supplements, the figures in this study suggest an overall better result with the rutin supplement (at least in Wistar rats) and we do get a substantial amount of rutin from our Durk & Sandy’s® AGEless which, in the recommended 6 capsules a day, contains 499.8 mg. of rutin. As we explained in our article on AGEless (see the Feb. 2008 issue of Life Enhancement), rutin has powerful protective effects against the formation of AGEs (advanced glycation endproducts), part of the aging process in which sugars (including glucose, fructose, ribose, and others) in the bloodstream chemically react (glycosylation) with proteins.


  1. Hsu and Yen. Effect of flavonoids and phenolic acid on the inhibition of adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. J Agric Food Chem 55:8404-10 (2007).
  2. Hsu, Wu, et al. Phenolic compounds rutin and o-Coumaric acid ameliorate obesity induced by high fat diet in rats. J Agric Food Chem 57:425-31 (2009).

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