Introduction: Sports activity and Urtica Dioica extract consumption increase the expression of genes involved in the conversion of white to brown adipose tissue, but their combined effect is not yet clear. This study aimed to investigate the effect of Urtica dioica extract consumption and aerobic training on serum Irisin and FGF21 concentration and PGC-1α and UCP1 gene expression in diabetic obese rats.
Methods: In an experimental design, Seventy male Wistar rats (mean weight: 227.35± 18.52 grams) were randomly divided into seven Healthy Control, Diabetic Control, Urtica Dioica, Metformin, Training, Urtica Dioica + Training, and Metformin + Training groups. The Training groups performed forced swimming training for four weeks, five days per week, and each day from 15 minutes (in the first week) to 50 minutes (in the fourth week). Each day, Urtica Dioica and Metformin groups received 1.25 and 100 mg/kg of these two substances, respectively via gavage. After the end of the intervention, rats’ blood samples, posterior thigh muscle tissues, pancreas, and fat (visceral) were taken to check the research variables. One-way analysis of variance and Bonferroni's post hoc test with a significance level of 0.05 was used to analyze the data.
Results: The serum Irisin concentration of the Metformin + exercise group was significantly higher than the Diabetic Control group (P<0.05). No significant difference was observed in the serum FGF21 concentration of all groups. A significant increase in PGC-1α and UCP-1 gene expression was observed in all treatment groups compared to Healthy Control and Diabetic Control groups (P<0.05).
Conclusion: The simultaneous consumption of Urtica Dioica extract and swimming training reduces blood glucose and also activates the PGC-1α and UCP-1 gene expression, which play a role in adipose tissue browning.