Overfeeding Polyunsaturated and Saturated Fat Causes Distinct Effects on Liver and Visceral Fat Accumulation in Humans

Diabetes. 2014 Jul;63(7):2356-68. doi: 10.2337/db13-1622. Epub 2014 Feb 18.

Abstract

Excess ectopic fat storage is linked to type 2 diabetes. The importance of dietary fat composition for ectopic fat storage in humans is unknown. We investigated liver fat accumulation and body composition during overfeeding saturated fatty acids (SFAs) or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). LIPOGAIN was a double-blind, parallel-group, randomized trial. Thirty-nine young and normal-weight individuals were overfed muffins high in SFAs (palm oil) or n-6 PUFAs (sunflower oil) for 7 weeks. Liver fat, visceral adipose tissue (VAT), abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), total adipose tissue, pancreatic fat, and lean tissue were assessed by magnetic resonance imaging. Transcriptomics were performed in SAT. Both groups gained similar weight. SFAs, however, markedly increased liver fat compared with PUFAs and caused a twofold larger increase in VAT than PUFAs. Conversely, PUFAs caused a nearly threefold larger increase in lean tissue than SFAs. Increase in liver fat directly correlated with changes in plasma SFAs and inversely with PUFAs. Genes involved in regulating energy dissipation, insulin resistance, body composition, and fat-cell differentiation in SAT were differentially regulated between diets, and associated with increased PUFAs in SAT. In conclusion, overeating SFAs promotes hepatic and visceral fat storage, whereas excess energy from PUFAs may instead promote lean tissue in healthy humans.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / drug effects
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Overnutrition / genetics
  • Overnutrition / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome / drug effects
  • Viscera / drug effects*
  • Viscera / metabolism
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated