Theabrownin from Pu-erh tea together with swinging exercise synergistically ameliorates obesity and insulin resistance in rats

  • Enkai Wu
  • Tingting Zhang
  • Chao Tan
  • Chunxiu Peng
  • Yusuf Chisti
  • Qiuping WangEmail author
  • Jiashun GongEmail author
Original Contribution



Theabrownin (TB)-containing Pu-erh tea has been shown to be hypolipidemic in rats fed a high-fat diet. Physical exercise such as swinging is also known to reduce obesity. We hypothesized that TB in combination with swinging can synergistically ameliorate obesity and insulin resistance in rats with metabolic syndrome.


TB, rosiglitazone, or lovastatin (controls) was administered by gavage to rats fed a diet high in fat, sugar, and salt. A subgroup of the rats was subjected to a 30-min daily swinging exercise regimen, whereas the other rats did not exercise.


Theabrownin in combination with swinging was found to significantly improve serum lipid status and prevent development of obesity and insulin resistance in rats. Liver transcriptomics data suggested that theabrownin activated circadian rhythm, protein kinase A, the adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, and insulin signaling pathways by enhancing cyclic adenosine monophosphate levels and, hence, accelerating nutrient metabolism and the consumption of sugar and fat. The serum dopamine levels in rats increased significantly after exercise. In parallel work, intraperitoneal dopamine injections were shown to significantly reduce weight gain and prevent the elevation in triglyceride levels that would otherwise be induced by the high fat-sugar–salt diet. Theabrownin prevented obesity and insulin resistance mainly by affecting the circadian rhythm, while swinging exercise stimulated the overproduction of dopamine to accelerate metabolism of glucose and lipid.


Theabrownin and exercise synergistically ameliorated metabolic syndrome in rats and effectively prevented obesity.


Dopamine Insulin resistance Metabolic syndrome Exercise Theabrownin Pu-erh tea 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31560456, 81860608) and Yunnan Agricultural Foundation Projects [2017FG001(-011) and 2017FG001(-089)].

Author contributions

JSG obtained financial support, and designed and oversaw this study. EKW performed the swinging research and analyzed data. TTZ performed the non-swinging research and analyzed data. CT designed the experimental swing. QPW, CXP, and YC prepared, reviewed, and edited the manuscript. All authors contributed to the discussion, read the final manuscript and approved it. JSG is the guarantor of this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Animal ethics statement

Experiments on animals were conducted in full compliance with the Yunnan Agricultural University institutional and Chinese national guidelines for care and use of laboratory animals.

Supplementary material

394_2019_2044_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1200 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Food Science and TechnologyYunnan Agricultural UniversityKunmingChina
  2. 2.College of Horticulture and LandscapeYunnan Agricultural UniversityKunmingChina
  3. 3.School of EngineeringMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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