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Obesity, a major health problem worldwide, is a complex multifactorial chronic disease that increases the risk for insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension. In this study, we assessed methods to isolate hypaphorine, a potent drug candidate for obesity and insulin resistance. Semi-preparative reversed-phase liquid chromatography (semi-preparative RPLC) was established as a method to separate three compounds, adenosine, l-tryptophan, and hypaphorine, from the crude extracts of <i>Caragana korshinskii </i>Kom. Due to its specific chemical structure, the effect of hypaphorine on differentiation and dexamethasone (DXM) induced insulin resistance of 3T3-L1 cells was investigated. The structures of the three compounds were confirmed by UV, ¹H-NMR, and <sup>13</sup>C-NMR analysis and compared with published data. The activity results indicated that hypaphorine prevented the differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes into adipocytes by down-regulating hormone-stimulated protein expression of peroxisome proliferator activated receptor <i>γ</i> (PPAR<i>γ</i>) and CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP<i>α</i>), and their downstream targets, sterol regulatory element binding protein 1 c (SREBP1c) and fatty acid synthase (FAS). Hypaphorine also alleviated DXM-induced insulin resistance in differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes <i>via</i> increasing the phosphorylation level of Akt2, a key protein in the insulin signaling pathway. Taken together, we suggest that the method can be applied to large-scale extraction and large-quantity preparation of hypaphorine for treatment of obesity and insulin resistance.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) is a well-known annual plant that is widely distributed worldwide and has possessed obvious hypoglycemic and hypercholesterolemia characteristics. In our previous study, three polyphenol stilbenes were separated from fenugreek seeds. Here, we investigated the effect of polyphenol stilbenes on adipogenesis and insulin resistance in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Oil Red O staining and triglyceride assays showed that polyphenol stilbenes differently reduced lipid accumulation by suppressing the expression of adipocyte-specific proteins. In addition, polyphenol stilbenes improved the uptake of 2-(N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl)amino)-2-deoxyglucose (2-NBDG) by promoting the phosphorylation of protein kinase B (AKT) and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). In present studies, it was found that polyphenol stilbenes had the ability to scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS). Results from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production and mitochondrial membrane potentials suggested that mitochondria play a critical role in insulin resistance and related signaling activation, such as AKT and AMPK. Rhaponticin, one of the stilbenes from fenugreek, had the strongest activity among the three compounds in vitro. Future studies will focus on mitochondrial biogenesis and function.