Quercetin transiently increases energy expenditure but persistently decreases circulating markers of inflammation in C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet

Metabolism. 2008 Jul;57(7 Suppl 1):S39-46. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2008.03.003.


Quercetin, a polyphenolic compound and a major bioflavonoid in the human diet, has anti-inflammatory properties and has been postulated to enhance energy expenditure (EE). We sought to determine whether quercetin alters body weight, body composition, EE, and circulating markers of inflammation. At 6 weeks (W) of age, 2 cohorts of C57BL/6J mice (N = 80) were placed on one of 2 diets for 3W or 8W: (1) high fat (HF) (45% kcal fat) or (2) high fat + quercetin (HF + Q) (45% kcal fat + 0.8% quercetin). Quercetin concentrations in the diet and plasma were evaluated using mass spectrometry. Body weight, composition (nuclear magnetic resonance), and food consumption were measured weekly. Energy expenditure was measured by indirect calorimetry at 3 and 8W, and inflammatory markers were measured in plasma obtained at 8W. The presence of quercetin in the HF diet did not alter food consumption over time in the HF + Q group and did not differ from the HF group at any time point. However, circulating plasma quercetin concentrations declined between 3 and 8W. At 3W, EE was higher during both day and night phases (P < .0001) in the HF + Q group compared with the HF group; but this difference was not detected at 8W and did not translate into significant differences between the HF + Q and HF groups with respect to body weight or body composition. During the night phase, concentrations of the inflammatory markers (interferon-gamma, interleukin-1alpha, and interleukin-4) were significantly lower when compared with HF treatment group (P < .05). Dietary supplementation with quercetin produces transient (3W) increases in EE that are not detected after 8W on the diet. A corresponding decrease in circulating quercetin between 3 and 8W suggests that metabolic adaptation may have diminished the impact of quercetin's early effect on EE and diminished its overall effect on nutrient partitioning and adiposity. However, quercetin at the levels provided was effective in reducing circulating markers of inflammation observed in animals on an HF diet at 8W.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diet, Atherogenic*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Drug Stability
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Quercetin / blood
  • Quercetin / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Quercetin