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Epicatechin

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  • Epicatechin has previously been suggested to rapidly reverse alloxan diabetes in rats.
    We have assessed the therapeutic value of the compound in two further animal models of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, namely streptozotocin-diabetic rats and the spontaneously diabetic BB/E rat.

  • There was no indication of areversal of established diabetes in either the streptozotocin-diabetic or the spontaneously diabetic BB/E rats.

  • Moreover, epicatechin also failed to halt the progression of the disease in prediabetic BB/E rats. Earlier claims of the potential use of epicatechin as an antidiabetic agent must therefore be treated with some caution.

  • Methods have been used that resolve stereoisomers of epicatechin and catechin. In beans harvested from unripe and ripe cacao pods, we find only (-)-epicatechin and (+)-catechin with (-)-epicatechin being by far the predominant isomer.

  • When beans are fermented there is a large loss of both (-)-epicatechin and (+)-catechin, but also the formation of (-)-catechin.We hypothesize that the heat of fermentation may, in part, be responsible for the formation of this enantiomer.

  • When beans are progressively roasted at conditions described as low, medium and high roast conditions, there is a progressive loss epicatechin and (+)-catechin and an increase in (-)-catechin with the higher roast levels.

  • When natural and Dutch-processed cacao powders are analyzed, there is progressive loss of both epicatechin and (+)-catechin with lesser losses of catechin.

  • We thus observe that in even lightly Dutch-processed powder, the level of (-)-catechin exceeds the level of (-)-epicatechin.

  • The results indicate that much of the increase in the level of (-)-catechin observed during various processing steps may be the result of heat-related epimerization from epicatechin.
     Epicatechin effects would be beneficial in supporting the management of secondary complications of diabetes. Polyphenols were shown to be useful in the long term preservation of rat pancreatic islets in vitro under physiological condition.

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