Obesity and its related complications have become one of the leading problems affecting human health. However, current anti-obesity treatments are limited by high cost and numerous adverse effects. In this study, we investigated the use of a non-toxic green food additive, known as unsaturated alginate oligosaccharides (UAOS) from the enzymatic degradation of Laminaria japonicais, which showed effective anti-obesity effects in a high-fat diet (HFD) mouse model. Compared with acid hydrolyzed saturated alginate oligosaccharides (SAOS), UAOS significantly reduced body weight, serum lipid, including triacylglycerol (TG), total cholesterol (TC) and free fatty acids (FFA), liver weight, liver TG and TC, serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels, adipose mass, reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, and accumulation induced in HFD mice. Moreover, the structural differences in β-d
-mannuronate (M) and its C5 epimer α-l
-guluronate (G) did not cause significant functional differences. Meanwhile, UAOS significantly increased both AMP-activated protein kinase α (AMPKα) and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) phosphorylation in adipocytes, which indicated that UAOS had an anti-obesity effect mainly through AMPK signaling. Our results indicate that UAOS has the potential for further development as an adjuvant treatment for many metabolic diseases such as fatty liver, hypertriglyceridemia, and possibly diabetes.
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