Francisco Alen is from the group of Neuropharmacology of Motivated Behavior which is a credited Research Group of the Complutense University of Madrid, with 20 years’ experience and more than 50 papers in international journals in different lines of research, including the role of the cannabinoid system in metabolic homeostasis and the development of new medications for obesity.
Obesity is currently considered a pandemic, worldwide, and finding ways to reduce its incidence has become a paramount objective of health-policies in many countries. Limiting the number of ingested calories is a strategy that has shown beneficial to reduce the prevalence of obesity. With this in mind, the use of artificial sweeteners is often advised in order to reduce the amount of ingested calories. Other studies would, however, pose caution on the use of artificial sweeteners, which would have been shown to be able to induce glucose intolerance, one of the landmarks of obesity and diabetes, in animal models and humans. Indeed, artificial sweeteners would, themselves, have been proposed as main contributors to the spread of obesity worldwide. But still, research is needed to clarify the role played by these compounds in the obesity problem. In menopausal women, obesity has been found to be an important risk factor for the development of postmenopausal breast cancer, and replacing caloric beverages with diet beverages, usually, artificially sweetened, continues to be a mainstream strategy in weight control in adult and peri-menopausal women. Unfortunately, to date, little is known about the effects of artificial sweeteners on weight gain or metabolic control in menopausal women. For this reason, we decided to assess the possible impact of the common artificial sweetener, saccharin, in an animal model of menopause, namely, the ovarectomized mouse. To this end, we selected 12 female ovarectomized C57BL/6 mice and assessed their metabolic control with a glucose tolerance test. Then, they were offered a 0.1% saccharin in water solution at their home cages for 16 days, after what, the glucose tolerance test was repeated. We found significant differences (p<0.005 and p<0.05) in basal glucose levels of the animals, after the 16 hour fasting preceding the glucose tolerance test posterior to the 16d saccharin treatment and these differences lasted for at least 45 days. Further studies should explore the importance of the observed alterations in the development of obesity and its possible role in human postmenopausal health.
Amany K Ibrahim completed her PhD from University of Mississippi, USA and SCU, Faculty of Pharmacy. She is the Head of the Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Suez Canal University. She has published more than 23 papers in reputed journals and has been serving as a Peer-Reviewer for reputed journals of her field.
Pain is the most common symptom in many medical conditions and has a significant impact on productivity and quality of life. Naturally occurring opiates and their synthetic analogues represent the most potent analgesics to date. Opioid ligands are also useful in the management of various types of addiction. The action of opioid agents is mediated by opioid receptors. Unfortunately, binding to these receptors also results in some undesirable side effects, such as respiratory depression, constipation, nausea, vomiting and sedation. Therefore, there is still a need to search for safer and more efficacious opioid agents. The aim of this study was to investigate extracts of plants growing in Egypt for potential opioid receptor affinity in order to isolate compounds possessing opioid receptor modulator activity. We investigated the binding affinity of 20 Egyptian plant extracts towards opioid receptors. Phagnalon rupestre F. Asteraceae showed promising activity (more than 50% receptors affinity) and was chosen for further investigation. The methanolic extract of this plant was fractionated using solvents of different polarities to obtain five fractions. The fractions were tested in vitro to determine their binding affinity towards opioid and cannabinoid receptors. The active fractions were subjected to various chromatographic separation procedures to obtain pure compounds. Several compounds were isolated and spectroscopically identified from the fraction (20% Ethyl acetate/ Hexane). However, the activity of the isolated compounds was less than that of the plant extract.