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White Tea extract induces lipolytic activity and inhibits adipogenesis in human subcutaneous (pre)-adipocytes

Jörn Söhle, Anja Knott, Ursula Holtzmann, Ralf Siegner, Elke Grönniger, Andreas Schepky, Stefan Gallinat, Horst Wenck, Franz Stäb and Marc Winnefeld*

Nutrition & Metabolism 2009, 6:20  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-6-20

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Tea intake and the possibility of adipose tissue remodeling

Ros��rio Monteiro   (2009-05-14 13:28)  Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicne, University of Porto email

This report raises interesting questions, but some aspects deserve further discussion. While stimulation of lipolysis by white tea may confer interest to this product as a helper in a strategy to lose weight, its anti-adipogenic effects may constitute, instead, a subject of concern. In an obesogenic context, reducing adipocyte number should not be an aim [1]. Instead, increasing the capacity of the adipose tissue to accommodate energy surplus, namely through the stimulation of adipocyte differentiation, might be more beneficial, as it will preclude fat from accumulating in other places, such as the liver, and adipocytes from becoming too big. In this regard, large adipocytes are known to be associated with increased plasma inflammatory cytokines [2, 3], this cellular phenotype being frequently found in obese, insulin resistant states, in association with impaired adipogenic ability [4]. Given the liability of large adipocytes to rupture [5], and the co-localization of adipose tissue macrophages with dead adipocytes [6], hypertrophy should be avoided. Our concern becomes even more emphasized when the authors mention that the influence of white tea on lipolysis and adipogenesis are depot-specific, no effect being observed in visceral adipocytes. Such an effect, of selective decrease of subcutaneous adipose tissue capacity, would deviate fat accumulation towards the more pathology-related visceral depot. However, the white tea effects here observed in vitro may not apply to in vivo situations. We have shown that rats drinking green tea for 6 months had reduced weight gain and decreased adipocyte size both in visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue depots, as compared to water-drinking controls [7]. Furthermore, the number of proliferating cells was increased in both adipose tissue depots whereas an increase in apoptotic cells did only occur in visceral adipose tissue, suggesting a re-distribution of body fat favoring the subcutaneous depot. As the components of green tea are somewhat comparable to those of white tea, an in vivo approach would probably help the authors to clarify the interest of white tea in an anti-obesity, health promoting behaviour.


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2. Bahceci M, Gokalp D, Bahceci S, Tuzcu A, Atmaca S, Arikan S: The correlation between adiposity and adiponectin, tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6 and high sensitivity C-reactive protein levels. Is adipocyte size associated with inflammation in adults? J Endocrinol Invest. 2007, 30:210-214.
3. Monteiro R: Chronic inflammation in the metabolic syndrome: emphasis on adipose tissue. In: R Soares, C Costa (Eds), Oxidative stress, inflammation and angiogenesis in the metabolic syndrome, pp.65-83. Springer, 2009.
4. Tchoukalova Y, Koutsari C, Jensen M: Committed subcutaneous preadipocytes are reduced in human obesity. Diabetologia. 2007, 50:151-157.
5. Monteiro R, de Castro PM, Calhau C, Azevedo I: Adipocyte size and liability to cell death. Obes Surg. 2006, 16:804-806.
6. Cinti S, Mitchell G, Barbatelli G, Murano I, Ceresi E, Faloia E, Wang S, Fortier M, Greenberg AS, Obin MS: Adipocyte death defines macrophage localization and function in adipose tissue of obese mice and humans. J Lipid Res. 2005, 46:2347-2355.
7. Monteiro R, Assunção M, Andrade JP, Neves D, Calhau C, Azevedo I: Chronic green tea consumption decreases body mass, induces aromatase expression and changes proliferation and apoptosis in adult male rat adipose tissue. J Nutr. 2008, 138:2156-2163.


Rosário Monteiro, Conceição Calhau and Isabel Azevedo
Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, Al. Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto. Portugal. Telephone/Fax.: +351 225513624. E-mail: rosariom@med.up.pt

Competing interests

No conflicts of interest to declare

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