Smilax china is known to provide various biological activities due to significant amount of phenolic acids such as resveratrol. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of methanol extract and digesta of S. china on triglyceride accumulation in adipocytes. Digesta of S. china was obtained from in vitro digestion simulating human digestive fluids. 3T3-L1 cells were used for adipogenesis, and triglyceride content was measured with Oil red O staining. Methanol extracts of leaf, stem and root from S. china were effective on decreasing triglyceride accumulation in adipocytes in a dose-dependent manner. Resveratrol, a major phenolic compound in S. china also induced significant decrease in triglyceride accumulation. Meanwhile, digesta from S. china increased triglyceride accumulation in all parts of the leaf, stem and root, indicating a different pattern with the results from the methanol extract of S. china.
This finding entails that components in digesta from Smilax china may act like agonists of PPAR-γ, a key factor to treat insulin-resistant type II diabetes. Our findings suggest that biological activity of various plants, including S. china, could be different depending on chemical and physiological approach.