Metabolic syndrome, a common disorder also known as Syndrome X and insulin resistance syndrome is (like many other obesity-related conditions) on the rise throughout the world. The American Heart Association criteria for metabolic syndrome include abdominal obesity, atherogenic dyslipidemia, elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance, prothrombotic state, and pro-inflammatory state.
As of 2001, some 47 million people in the United States had metabolic syndrome - which was projected to overtake cigarette smoking as the greatest risk factor of cardiovascular disease . One of the accompanying conditions of metabolic syndrome that has not received as much attention is oxidative stress. This seems to be a key in the disease condition, and all efforts to address the independent components of metabolic syndrome should include an effort to reduce oxidative stress, which has not been clearly established to be a prelude or consequence of metabolic syndrome.
In an effort to delay the onset of heart disease and type 2 diabetes for the vast and ever-increasing numbers of overweight/obese persons now at high risk for these diseases, the current International Diabetes Foundation recommends pharmacological agents that specifically target individual components of metabolic syndrome [2–7]. Although these agents can have benefits, the combination of safety concerns, high costs, and the complex nature of the condition have encouraged the investigation of medicinal plants as natural supplements in its treatment.
LeptiCore® is a proprietary blend of plant-based polysaccharides, esterified fatty acids, pomegranate, polyphenols and ellagic acid, beta carotene, and aphanizomenon flosaquae extract, which are components shown to reduce stored body fat, enhance weight loss, act as antioxidants and ameliorate the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
Research has shown that leptin serves as a regulator of body fat storage by modulating satiation, glycemic control and metabolism; and that reduction in serum leptin correlates with lower regional body fat and total body fat [8–10]. Leptin has also been shown to cause oxidative stress , which can further exacerbate metabolic syndrome.
Leptin is secreted by fat - the more fat, the more leptin - yet it is named for the Greek word leptos, which means "thin." While obese people produce much higher levels of leptin than thin and normal-weight individuals, they are somehow resistant to its effects [8, 12].
One reason for this may be that elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which inhibits leptin's role in controlling appetite . CRP is now considered a key marker for low-grade systemic inflammation which, in turn, is considered by leading scientists to be responsible for a number of metabolic problems that result in unwanted weight gain and obesity . Low grade, internal, invisible inflammation, oxidative stress, along with high leptin levels, may be a root cause of excess body fat and the inability to lose excess or unwanted fat .
In vivo and in vitro research done at the University of Pittsburgh demonstrated that CRP binds to leptin thereby impairing its signaling in two ways: 1) the coupling of CRP to leptin makes crossing the blood-brain barrier nearly impossible, thus preventing "free" leptin access to the hypothalamus; 2) the CRP/leptin complex inhibits the binding of leptin to its receptors, thus blocking its ability to signal in cultured cells. Since human CRP correlates with increased plasma leptin and adiposity, the results "suggest a potential mechanism to leptin resistance, by which circulating CRP binds to leptin and attenuates its physiological functions .
In one set of studies, the researchers delivered human leptin continuously for six days into mice which had receptors for leptin but lacked the ability to produce it. As expected, the plump mice ate less and lost weight, and their blood glucose levels normalized. Infusions containing both leptin and high doses of CRP, however, blocked the action of leptin. The plump mice just kept eating, getting fatter and fatter, and were no longer protected against diabetes. Giving CRP alone affected neither food intake nor body weight .
Another experiment showed that human liver cells increased CRP expression when exposed to leptin, which suggests that appetite may be regulated through a feedback loop that includes the liver in addition to the brain and leptin-secreting fat cells .
Of the various ingredients in the LeptiCore formulation, the plant-based polysaccharides and esterified fatty acids have been shown to lower leptin level, resulting in reduced appetite and weight loss [17, 18]. Various studies have shown that pomegranate extract contains polyphenolic compounds and beta carotenes, which have considerable efficacy in lowering CRP, resulting in reduced inflammation and lowered cholesterol [19–21]. The reduction of inflammation and CRP promotes leptin's effectiveness, increasing the possibility of reduced appetite and weight loss. These components have also been shown to be effective antioxidants which will consequently improve the components of metabolic syndrome.
The last of the natural ingredients in this formulation, the phycocyanamines (blue green algae--a high phenylethylamine (PEA) blend) addresses the emotional aspects of metabolic syndrome by increasing the vital neurotransmitter, serotonin (5-HT), a well known mood elevator [22, 23]. Many studies have shown that serotonin affects eating behavior and body weight, and that increased serotonin plasma levels are associated with decreased food intake, reduced weight gain, and increased energy expenditure [24, 25].
The primary purpose of the present study was to determine the effects of two dosage levels of a unique, natural formulation containing the above agents on weight loss in patients with metabolic syndrome.