In developed, developing and low-income countries alike, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is one of the most common chronic diseases, the severity of which is substantially a consequence of multiple organ complications that occur due to long-term progression of the disease before diagnosis and treatment. Despite enormous investment into the characterization of the disease, its long-term management remains problematic, with those afflicted enduring significant degradation in quality-of-life. Current research efforts into the etiology and pathogenesis of T2DM, are focused on defining aberrations in cellular physiology that result in development of insulin resistance and strategies for increasing insulin sensitivity, along with downstream effects on T2DM pathogenesis. Ongoing use of plant-derived naturally occurring materials to delay the onset of the disease or alleviate symptoms is viewed by clinicians as particularly desirable due to well-established efficacy and minimal toxicity of such preparations, along with generally lower per-patient costs, in comparison to many modern pharmaceuticals. A particularly attractive candidate in this respect, is fenugreek, a plant that has been used as a flavouring in human diet through recorded history. The present study assessed the insulin-sensitizing effect of fenugreek seeds in a cohort of human volunteers, and tested a hypothesis that melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) acts as a critical determinant of this effect. A test of the hypothesis was undertaken using a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic glucose clamp approach to assess insulin sensitivity in response to oral administration of a fenugreek seed preparation to healthy subjects. Outcomes of these evaluations demonstrated significant improvement in glucose tolerance, especially in patients with impaired glucose responses. Outcome data further suggested that fenugreek seed intake-mediated improvement in insulin sensitivity correlated with reduction in MCH levels.
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