The odd-carbon medium-chain fatty triglyceride triheptanoin does not reduce hepatic steatosis

Tine M. Comhair, Sonia C. Garcia Caraballo, Cornelis H.C. Dejong, Wouter H. Lamers, S. Eleonore Koehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Background & aims Non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease (NAFLD) is the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. Previously, we showed that a high-protein diet minimized diet-induced development of fatty liver and even reversed pre-existing steatosis. A high-protein diet leads to amino-acid catabolism, which in turn causes anaplerosis of the tricarboxylic-acid (TCA) cycle. Therefore, we hypothesized that anaplerosis of the TCA cycle could be responsible for the high-protein diet-induced improvement of NAFLD by channeling amino acids into the TCA cycle. Next we considered that an efficient anaplerotic agent, the odd-carbon medium-chain triglyceride triheptanoin (TH), might have similar beneficial effects. Methods: C57BL/6J mice were fed low-fat (8en%) or high-fat (42en%) oleate-containing diets with or without 15en% TH for 3 weeks. Results: TH treatment enhanced the hepatic capacity for fatty-acid oxidation by a selective increase in hepatic Ppara, Acox, and Cd36 expression, and a decline in plasma acetyl-carnitines. It also induced pyruvate cycling through an increased hepatic PCK1 protein concentration and it increased thermogenesis reflected by an increased Ucp2 mRNA content. TH, however, did not reduce hepatic lipid content. Conclusion: The comparison of the present effects of dietary triheptanoin with a previous study by our group on protein supplementation shows that the beneficial effects of the high-protein diet are not mimicked by TH. This argues against anaplerosis as the sole explanatory mechanism for the anti-steatotic effect of a high-protein diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-237
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Anaplerosis
  • Diet
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Steatosis
  • Triheptanoin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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