Obesity and associated comorbidities such as cardiac diseases have become a major public health problem for today’s societies. There has been an increased focus on the use of natural compounds to combat this growing pandemic. Many studies have concluded that dietary polyphenolic flavonoids can reduce the development of mature adipocytes, a prerequisite for obesity, but little is known about the stages and mechanisms by which flavonoids act. Human preadipocytes (SGBS cells), a novel adipogenesis model, were treated with various concentrations of the flavonoid quercetin during proliferation and differentiation. Cell proliferation was measured using a 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)−2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay after 72 hours of incubation. These were supported by microscopic cell counts. Differentiation was measured by oil red “O” staining followed by semi quantitative spectrophotometric analysis and lipid development examination. Quercetin was shown to reduce preadipocyte proliferation at high concentrations but increased viability at low concentrations. This has previously been reported in 3T3 cells. However, differentiation was reduced significantly across all concentrations of quercetin (p < 0.05, ANOVA). The positive effect on proliferation at low concentrations did not translate to an increase in mature adipocyte development. Treating preadipocytes during proliferation, during the induction of differentiation and partway through differentiation all had an overall reduction in the abundance of maturing adipocytes (p < 0.05, ANOVA). This finding highlights the potential of flavonoids as dietary supplements across all stages of obesity. Investigation of the molecular signatures at every stage of adipocyte development to determine the mechanism behind the reduction in differentiation is ongoing.
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