W9, a medicinal plant from the pharmacopeia of the Eastern James Bay Cree, exhibits anti-diabetic activities in two mouse model of diabetes
Aboriginal populations are particularly at risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus and its complications. In Canada, diabetes prevalence for these populations is at least three times higher than that of the general population. W9 has been identified among species used by the Cree of Eeyou Istchii of northern Quebec to treat symptoms of diabetes. In a previous study, the ethanol extract of W9 enhanced glucose uptake in C2C12 muscle cells via stimulation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway. In this study, we investigated the in vivo effect of this plant in two mouse models of type 2 diabetes. In the first one, KKAy mice received W9 extract in drinking water (1%) for 10 days. In the second model, C57BL/6 mice were fed a high fat diet (HFD; ˜35% lipids) for 8 weeks until they became obese and insulin resistant (diet-induced-obesity; DIO). Treatment then began by adding W9 extract to HFD at 3 different concentration (125, 250 and 500mg/Kg) for another 8 weeks. In both models, W9 significantly decreased glycemia, strongly tended to decrease insulin levels, and this was accompanied with reduced fluid intake in the KKAy model. This correlated with either a tendency or a frank increase in GLUT4 content and activation of the AMPK and/or Akt pathways in skeletal muscle. W9 treatment also improved hepatic steatosis by decreasing hepatic triglyceride levels and significantly activating the AMPK and Akt pathways. The results of the present study confirm that W9 represents a culturally relevant treatment option for Cree diabetics.
Acknowledgement: This work was supported by a Team Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR Team in Aboriginal Antidiabetic Medicines) to P.S.H. and J.T.A. and was conducted with the consent and support of the Cree Nation of Mistissini,