Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Screening native botanicals for bioactivity: an interdisciplinary approach

July 1, 2014

Objective: Plant-based therapies have been used in medicine throughout recorded history. Information about the therapeutic properties of plants often can be found in local cultures as folk medicine is communicated from one generation to the next. The aim of this study was to identify native Louisiana plants from Creole folk medicine as a potential source of therapeutic compounds for the treatment of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and related disorders.

Methods: We used an interdisciplinary approach combining expertise in disciplines ranging from cultural anthropology and botany to biochemistry and endocrinology to screen native southwest Louisiana plants. Translation of accounts of Creole folk medicine yielded a list of plants with documented use in treating a variety of conditions, including inflammation. These plants were collected, vouchered, and catalogued before extraction of soluble components. Extracts were analyzed for bioactivity in regulating inflammatory responses in macrophages or fatty acid–induced insulin resistance in C2C12 skeletal muscle cells.

Results: Several extracts altered gene expression of inflammatory markers in macrophages. Multiplex analysis of kinase activation in insulin-signaling pathways in skeletal muscle also identified a subset of extracts that alter insulin-stimulated protein kinase B phosphorylation in the presence of fatty-acid–induced insulin resistance.

Conclusion: An interdisciplinary approach to screening botanical sources of therapeutic agents can be successfully applied to identify native plants used in folk medicine as potential sources of therapeutic agents in treating insulin resistance in skeletal muscle or inflammatory processes associated with obesity-related insulin resistance.

Publication Year 2014
Title Screening native botanicals for bioactivity: an interdisciplinary approach
DOI 10.1016/j.nut.2014.02.028
Authors Anik Boudreau, Diana M. Cheng, Carmen Ruiz, David Ribnicky, Larry K. Allain, C. Ray Brassieur, D. Phil Turnipseed, William T. Cefalu, Z. Elizabeth Floyd
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Nutrition
Index ID 70144153
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wetlands Research Center