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Stevia Nonsweetener Fraction Displays an Insulinotropic Effect Involving Neurotransmission in Pancreatic Islets

Stevia rebaudiana (Bert.) Bertoni besides being a source of noncaloric sweeteners is also an important source of bioactive molecules.Many plant extracts, mostly obtained with ethyl acetate solvent, are rich in polyphenol compounds that present insulinotropic effects. To investigate whether the nonsweetener fraction, which is rich in phenolic compounds isolated from Stevia rebaudiana with the solvent ethyl acetate (EAF), has an insulinotropic effect, including interference at the terminals of the autonomic nervous system of the pancreatic islets of rats. Pancreatic islets were isolated from Wistar rats and incubated with EAF and inhibitory or stimulatory substances of insulin secretion, including cholinergic and adrenergic agonists and antagonists. EAF potentiates glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) only in the presence of high glucose and calcium-dependent concentrations. EAF increased muscarinic insulinotropic effects in pancreatic islets, interfering with the muscarinic receptor subfamily M3. Adrenergic inhibitory effects on GSIS were attenuated in the presence of EAF, which interfered with theadrenergic α2 receptor. Results suggest that EAF isolated from stevia leaves is a potential therapy for treating type 2 diabetes mellitus by stimulating insulin secretion only in high glucose concentrations, enhancing parasympathetic signal transduction and inhibiting sympathetic signal transduction in beta cells.