Objectives We previously found that elevated energy expenditure following a single oral dose of flavan 3-ols (FL), a mixture of catechins and B type procyanidins, is caused by sympathetic nerve activation. In the present study, we compared the activity of the FL components (-)-epicate-chin (EC; monomer), procyanidin B2 (B2; dimer), procyanidin C1 (C1; trimer), cinnamtannin A2 (A2; tetramer), and more than pentamer fraction (P5). Methods Male ICR mice were treated with a single oral dose of FL, EC, B2, C1, A2, or P5. The animals were sacrificed and blood and brown adipose tissue (BAT) sampled. The plasma catecholamine (CA) levels and BAT uncoupling protein (UCP)-1 mRNA expression were determined. Results A single dose of 10 mg/kg FL significantly increased plasma CA and UCP-1 mRNA levels. B2, C1, and A2, but not EC and P5 (all at 1 mg/kg), significantly increased plasma adrenaline levels. Plasma noradrenaline was significantly elevated by B2 and A2, but not by EC, C1, or P5. UCP-1 mRNA levels were significantly increased by C1 and P5. In the dose response study of A2, 10−3 mg/kg A2 increased UCP-1 mRNA levels significantly, but not 10−2 and 10−1 mg/kg A2. In addition, combination treatment with 10−1 mg/kg A2 and yohimbine, an α2 adrenalin blocker, remarkably increased UCP-1 mRNA levels. Conclusion These results suggest that FL and its components, except EC, increase UCP-1 mRNA and plasma CA with varying efficacy.
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