The study, due for publication in the December issue of the journal Metabolism, was conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Fudan University in Shanghai, and Central South University in Changsha, China.
“Cinnamaldehyde (CA) is a food compound that has previously been observed to be protective against obesity and hyperglycemia in mouse models,” they wrote.
The next step was to assess how cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives cinnamon its flavor and scent, will have the same effect in humans, and what it mechanism looks like.
Study design and results
Cell cultures from the fat-storing tissues of both mice and humans were used in this study. The human cells were isolated from four donors undergoing voluntary surgery.
The mice tissues were treated with cinnamaldehyde first, both in an acute manner (analyzed for a short period of time) and a chronic (over a longer period of time). They found that acute exposure to the cinnamaldehyde upregulated thermogenesis, or the production of heat, in the tissue, which suggested the chemical compound’s anti-obese properties. Results were the same in chronic treatment.
In the human tissues, which came from human donors of different ethnicities and ages, the researchers consistently observed that cinnamaldehyde also activated thermogenesis in the tissue.
These results gave a mechanistic explanation for the anti-obesity effects of cinnamaldehyde observed in previous studies, according to the researchers, further supporting its potential metabolic benefits on humans.
“Given the wide usage of cinnamon in the food industry, the notion that this popular food additive, instead of a drug, may activate thermogenesis, could ultimately lead to therapeutic strategies against obesity that are much better adhered to by participants,” they added.
Cinnamaldehyde induces fat cell-autonomous thermogenesis and metabolic reprogramming
Published online ahead of print, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2017.08.006
Authors: Juan Jian, Margo P. Emont, Heejin Jun, Xiaona Qiao, Jiling Liao, Dong-il Kim, Jun Wu