Researchers at Oregon State University have made a fundamental advance in understanding xanthohumol, a compound found in hops that’s of significant interest to prevent or treat the lipid and metabolic disorders that are a primary killer of people in the developed world.
The scientists identified for the first time more precisely how xanthohumol works, and why it may have such significant promise in addressing the high cholesterol, blood sugar, obesity and other issues that are collectively referred to as metabolic syndrome.
The findings were recently published in BBA, Proteins and Proteomics, a professional journal, by researchers from several OSU departments and the Linus Pauling Institute. The work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health.
More than 25 percent of the adults in the United States meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome, putting them at significantly increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. That syndrome is defined by diagnosis of three or more of several conditions, including abdominal obesity, elevated lipids, high blood pressure, pro-inflammatory state, a pro-thrombotic state and insulin resistance or impaired glucose tolerance.
The new research was based on mass spectrometry in combination with a chemical labeling technique. In it, the scientists concluded that several prenylflavonoids, particularly xanthohumol, clearly are a ligand, or have a binding mechanism that promotes the activity of the Farnesoid X Receptor, or FXR. FXR, in turn, is a master regulator of lipid and glucose metabolism, in simpler terms, the body’s processing of fats and sugar.
There’s already interest in targeting FXR as a possible approach to a therapy for fatty liver disease, type2 diabetes and obesity, said Claudia Maier, a professor of chemistry in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences. With this work we’ve identified a unique binding mechanism and chemical structure that could make that possible. This is really very interesting, and very promising.