Altered hyperlipidemia, hepatic steatosis, and hepatic peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors in rats with intake of tart cherry

J Med Food. 2008 Jun;11(2):252-9. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2007.658.


Elevated plasma lipids, glucose, insulin, and fatty liver are among components of metabolic syndrome, a phenotypic pattern that typically precedes the development of Type 2 diabetes. Animal studies show that intake of anthocyanins reduces hyperlipidemia, obesity, and atherosclerosis and that anthocyanin-rich extracts may exert these effects in association with altered activity of tissue peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs). However, studies are lacking to test this correlation using physiologically relevant, whole food sources of anthocyanins. Tart cherries are a rich source of anthocyanins, and whole cherry fruit intake may also affect hyperlipidemia and/or affect tissue PPARs. This hypothesis was tested in the Dahl Salt-Sensitive rat having insulin resistance and hyperlipidemia. For 90 days, Dahl rats were pair-fed AIN-76a-based diets supplemented with either 1% (wt:wt) freeze-dried whole tart cherry or with 0.85% additional carbohydrate to match macronutrient and calorie provision. After 90 days, the cherry-enriched diet was associated with reduced fasting blood glucose, hyperlipidemia, hyperinsulinemia, and reduced fatty liver. The cherry diet was also associated with significantly enhanced hepatic PPAR-alpha mRNA, enhanced hepatic PPAR-alpha target acyl-coenzyme A oxidase mRNA and activity, and increased plasma antioxidant capacity. In conclusion, physiologically relevant tart cherry consumption reduced several phenotypic risk factors that are associated with risk for metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. Tart cherries may represent a whole food research model of the health effects of anthocyanin-rich foods and may possess nutraceutical value against risk factors for metabolic syndrome and its clinical sequelae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthocyanins / administration & dosage*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Diet
  • Fatty Liver / drug therapy*
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control
  • PPAR alpha / genetics*
  • PPAR alpha / physiology
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Prunus / chemistry*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Dahl


  • Anthocyanins
  • PPAR alpha
  • RNA, Messenger