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Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is a herb common to tropical and subtropical regions particularly Asia and South
America. In countries like Malaysia, the sweet leaves of this plant have been used in daily cooking and as a form of
alternative therapy by communities practicing folk medicines. The zero-calorie value of stevia leaves also provide a
beneficial sweetening alternative to patients with metabolic syndromes like diabetes and obesity. A cell culture model of
3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes was implemented in this study to investigate the effects of stevioside, a major component extracted
from the S. rebaudiana Bertoni plant on improving insulin sensitivity. 3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes were first differentiated to
mature adipocytes prior to tests. The differentiation process was later confirmed by performing Oil Red-O staining. The
degree of insulin sensitivity was measured by performing counts via the radioactive 2-deoxy-[1-3H]-glucose uptake assay.
A separate assay was done to estimate the optimum insulin concentration in the glucose uptake of the 3T3-L1 adipocytes.
Cells treated with stevioside showed significant increase in glucose uptake at lower concentrations compared to a diabetic
drug, rosiglitazone maleate at higher concentrations of the compound. The enhancement of glucose uptake was 2.08-fold
(p<0.001) in the cells treated with 30µM stevioside. Stevioside was thus seen to elevate insulin-stimulated glucose uptake
concomitant with potentially enhanced insulin signaling in the 3T3-L1 cell culture model.