BACKGROUND. Dietary intake of saturated fat is a likely contributor to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and insulin resistance, but the mechanisms that initiate these abnormalities in humans remain unclear. We examined the effects of a single oral saturated fat load on insulin sensitivity, hepatic glucose metabolism, and lipid metabolism in humans. Similarly, initiating mechanisms were examined after an equivalent challenge in mice.
METHODS. Fourteen lean, healthy individuals randomly received either palm oil (PO) or vehicle (VCL). Hepatic metabolism was analyzed using in vivo 13C/31P/1H and ex vivo 2H magnetic resonance spectroscopy before and during hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps with isotope dilution. Mice underwent identical clamp procedures and hepatic transcriptome analyses.
RESULTS. PO administration decreased whole-body, hepatic, and adipose tissue insulin sensitivity by 25%, 15%, and 34%, respectively. Hepatic triglyceride and ATP content rose by 35% and 16%, respectively. Hepatic gluconeogenesis increased by 70%, and net glycogenolysis declined by 20%. Mouse transcriptomics revealed that PO differentially regulates predicted upstream regulators and pathways, including LPS, members of the TLR and PPAR families, NF-κB, and TNF-related weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK).
CONCLUSION. Saturated fat ingestion rapidly increases hepatic lipid storage, energy metabolism, and insulin resistance. This is accompanied by regulation of hepatic gene expression and signaling that may contribute to development of NAFLD.
REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01736202.
FUNDING. Germany: Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Research North Rhine–Westfalia, German Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, German Center for Diabetes Research, German Research Foundation, and German Diabetes Association. Portugal: Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, FEDER – European Regional Development Fund, Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, and Rede Nacional de Ressonância Magnética Nuclear.