Isolation and Characterization of Polyphenol Type-A Polymers
fromCinnamon with Insulin-like Biological Activity
RICHARD A. ANDERSON,*,†C. LEIGH BROADHURST,‡MARILYN M. POLANSKY,†
WALTER F. SCHMIDT,‡ALAM KHAN,†,§VINCENT P. FLANAGAN,⊥
NORBERTA W. SCHOENE,†AND DONALD J. GRAVES|
Nutrient Requirements and Functions Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, USDA,
ARS, Bldg 307C, Rm 223, Beltsville, Maryland 20705-2350, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
Laboratory, ARS, USDA, Beltsville, Maryland 20705-2350, Food Composition Laboratory,
Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, USDA, ARS, Beltsville, Maryland 20705-2350, and
Department of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California,
Santa Barbara, California 93106-9610
The causes and control of type 2 diabetes mellitus are not clear, but there is strong evidence that
dietary factors are involved in its regulation and prevention. We have shown that extracts from
cinnamon enhance the activity of insulin. The objective of this study was to isolate and characterize
insulin-enhancing complexes from cinnamon that may be involved in the alleviation or possible
prevention and control of glucose intolerance and diabetes. Water-soluble polyphenol polymers from
cinnamon that increase insulin-dependent in vitro glucose metabolism roughly 20-fold and display
antioxidant activity were isolated and characterized by nuclear magnetic resonance and mass
spectroscopy. The polymers were composed of monomeric units with a molecular mass of 288. Two
trimers with a molecular mass of 864 and a tetramer with a mass of 1152 were isolated. Their
protonated molecular masses indicated that they are A type doubly linked procyanidin oligomers of
the catechins and/or epicatechins. These polyphenolic polymers found in cinnamon may function as
antioxidants, potentiate insulin action, and may be beneficial in the control of glucose intolerance
KEYWORDS: Glucose; insulin; diabetes; cinnamon; polyphenols; spice
Despite extensive diabetes research, the prevention and
control of type 2 diabetes mellitus (type 2 DM) remain unclear.
Diet has been shown to play a definite role in the onset of type
2 DM, and the diets commonly consumed in the United States
and other westernized countries appear to increase the incidence
of diabetes (1). The high refined sugar and high fat content of
US diets are likely to be partly responsible, but the low intake
of traditional herbs, spices, and other plant products may also
be involved. The recommended use of plants in the treatment
of diabetes dates back to approximately 1550 BCE (2). For the
majority of the world population, drug treatment for diabetes
is not feasible and alternative treatments need to be evaluated.
Plants are important not only for the control of type 2 DM but
also for its prevention, especially for people with elevated levels
of blood glucose and glucose intolerance who have a greater
risk of developing diabetes.
Common spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaves
display insulin potentiating activity in vitro (3). It was thought
that these spices might also have high chromium (Cr) concen-
trations, because biologically active forms of Cr potentiate
insulin activity (4). However, there are no correlations between
total Cr concentrations and insulin potentiating activity in these
plant products (3). Only a small portion of the total Cr in
biological systems is associated with insulin potentiating activity.
In addition to improving cellular glucose metabolism, cin-
namon may provide additional benefits for persons with diabetes
through its antioxidant activity. Cinnamon, in addition to cloves,
cumin, curcumin, many mint family plants, and others that are
usually high in flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants, may
be synergistic with vitamins and trace elements (5-8). Dried
ground and fresh spices were found to be highly effective at
preventing lipid peroxidation of cooked ground fish. The order
of effectiveness for dried spices was cloves > cinnamon >
cumin g black pepper g fennel ) fenugreek (9). Specific
antioxidant phytochemicals that have been identified in cin-
namon include epicatechin, camphene, eugenol, gamma-ter-
pinene, phenol, salicylic acid, and tannins (8).
* To whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel.: 301/504-8091.
Fax: 301/504-9062. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
†Nutrient Requirements and Functions Laboratory, Beltsville Human
Nutrition Research Center.
‡Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Laboratory.
§Present address: Department of Nutrition, NWFP Agricultural Uni-
versity, Peshawar, Pakistan.
⊥Food Composition Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research
|University of California.
J. Agric. Food Chem . 2004, 52, 65−7065
10.1021/jf034916b CCC: $27.50©2004 Am erican Chem ical Society
Published on Web 12/03/2003
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Received for review August 13, 2003. Revised manuscript received
October 29, 2003. Accepted October 30, 2003. This work was supported
in part by grants from the Diabetes Action Research Foundation,
Washington, D.C. and the United States-Israel Binational Agricultural
Research and Development Fund. Work was also supported by Grant
180 from The Cottage Hospital, Santa Barbara, CA, to D. J. Graves.
70J. Agric. Food Chem ., Vol. 52, No. 1, 2004 Anderson et al.