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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 172537, 13 pages
Research Article

Populus balsamifera Extract and Its Active Component Salicortin Reduce Obesity and Attenuate Insulin Resistance in a Diet-Induced Obese Mouse Model

1Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Team in Aboriginal Antidiabetic Medicines, Université de Montréal, P.O. Box 6128, Downtown Station, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7
2Natural Health Products and Metabolic Diseases Laboratory, Department of Pharmacology, Université de Montréal, P.O. Box 6128, Downtown Station, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7
3Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods, Université Laval, Quebec City, QC, Canada G1V 0A6
4Montreal Diabetes Research Center, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada H1W 4A4
5Department of Biology and Center for Research in Biopharmaceuticals and Biotechnology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1N 6N5

Received 13 February 2013; Accepted 8 April 2013

Academic Editor: Ravirajsinh N. Jadeja

Copyright © 2013 Despina Harbilas et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Populus balsamifera L. (BP) is a medicinal plant stemming from the traditional pharmacopoeia of the Cree of Eeyou Istchee (CEI—Northern Quebec). In vitro screening studies revealed that it strongly inhibited adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, suggesting potential antiobesity activity. Salicortin was identified, through bioassay-guided fractionation, as the active component responsible for BP’s activity. The present study aimed to assess the potential of BP and salicortin at reducing obesity and features of the metabolic syndrome, in diet-induced obese C57Bl/6 mice. Mice were subjected to high fat diet (HFD) for sixteen weeks, with BP (125 or 250 mg/kg) or salicortin (12.5 mg/kg) introduced in the HFD for the last eight of the sixteen weeks. BP and salicortin effectively reduced whole body and retroperitoneal fat pad weights, as well as hepatic triglyceride accumulation. Glycemia, insulinemia, leptin, and adiponectin levels were also improved. This was accompanied by a small yet significant reduction in food intake in animals treated with BP. BP and salicortin (slightly) also modulated key components in signaling pathways involved with glucose regulation and lipid oxidation in the liver, muscle, and adipose tissue. These results confirm the validity of the CEI pharmacopoeia as alternative and complementary antiobesity and antidiabetic therapies.