Soybean Protein Found To Improve Metabolism In Mice

Japanese researchers have found that a single intake of soybean protein improves metabolism in mice, reducing the risk for obesity.

AsianScientist (Jul. 21, 2016) – Japanese researchers have found that just a single intake of β-conglycinin, a protein found in soybean, can lead to improved metabolism in animal models. This finding, published in Scientific Reports, indicates that at a molecular level, a diet incorporating β-conglycinin may help to prevent lifestyle-related diseases.

Prior studies have shown that daily consumption of soybean protein is effective at preventing obesity and heart disease. In particular, research has focused on β-conglycinin, which accounts for 20 percent of the protein in soybeans, as the potential active component responsible for this effect. However, the detailed molecular mechanism by which it might act was unknown.

The research group of Professor Ryuichiro Sato at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences showed that one meal of β-conglycinin rapidly increases levels of the protein fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) in the blood. FGF21 stimulates glucose uptake in fat cells, contributing to the breaking down of fats.

The researchers gave fasting mice a single meal incorporating β-conglycinin and examined gene expression in the liver six hours after consumption. The group discovered that while gene expression for FGF21 is normally suppressed after eating, gene expression and circulating levels of FGF21 in the blood rose after the consumption of β-conglycinin. The group also found that activation of the protein ATF4, a transcription factor that binds with DNA, is indispensable for an increase in FGF21 levels.

“Effects of dietary ingredients on metabolic improvement are usually demonstrated by long-term administration over a period of weeks,” said Sato.

“The dramatic effects caused by single ingestion of β-conglycinin far exceeded our expectations. FGF21 has recently received a lot of attention because it exhibits promising metabolic improvement effects as a functional circulating factor. It is a great surprise that a soy protein has such a characteristic function. This suggests that β-conglycinin can be used proactively as a functional food ingredient.”

However, unlike with mice, it may be impractical to get people to consume an entire meal of only β-conglycinin, the researchers wrote in the paper.

The article can be found at: Hashidume et al. (2016) Single Ingestion Of Soy β-conglycinin Induces Increased Postprandial Circulating FGF21 Levels Exerting Beneficial Health Effects.


Source: The University of Tokyo; Photo: Pixabay.
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