Browning is the process of increasing the number of brite cells, which helps to increase energy expenditure and reduce obesity. Consumption of natural and non-toxic herbal extracts that possess the browning effect is an attractive anti-obesity strategy. In this study, we examined the browning effect of cinnamon extract. We found that cinnamon extract (CE) induced typical brown adipocyte multiocular phenotype in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. The treatment also increased brown adipocytes markers and reduced white adipocytes markers in the 3T3-L1 adipocytes. In ex vivo studies, we found that CE increased brown adipocytes markers in the subcutaneous adipocytes isolated from db/db mice and diet-induced obesity (DIO) mice. However, CE did not significantly affect UCP1 expression in the adipocytes isolated from perinephric adipose tissue and epididymal adipose tissue. β3-adernergic receptor (β3-AR) antagonist reduced the CE-enhanced UCP1 expression, suggesting an involvement of the β3-AR activity. Oral administration of CE significantly increased UCP1 expression in the subcutaneous adipose tissue in vivo and reduced the body weight of the DIO mice. Taken together, our data suggest that CE has a browning effect in subcutaneous adipocytes. Our study suggests a natural non-toxic herbal remedy to reduce obesity.
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