Background: Mitochondria are dynamic organelles that frequently undergo fission and fusion processes, and imbalances in these processes may be involved in obesity and insulin resistance.
Aims: The present work had the following aims: (a) to evaluate whether the mitochondrial dysfunction present in the hepatic steatosis induced by a high-fat diet is associated with changes in mitochondrial dynamics and morphology; (b) to evaluate whether effects on the above parameters differ between high-lard and high-fish-oil diets, as it has been suggested that fish oil may have anti-obesity and anti-steatotic effects by stimulating fatty acids utilisation.
Methods: The development of hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance was monitored in rats fed a high-lard or high-fish-oil diet. Immunohistochemical and electronic microscopic observations were performed on liver sections. In isolated liver mitochondria, assessments of fatty acids oxidation rate, proton conductance and oxidative stress (by measuring H2O2 release and aconitase activity) were performed. Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses were performed to evaluate the presence of proteins involved in mitochondrial dynamics (i.e., fusion and fission processes). To investigate the fusion process, mitofusin 2 and autosomal dominant optic atrophy-1 (OPA1) were analysed. To investigate the fission process, the presence of dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) and fission 1 protein (Fis1) was assessed.
Results: High-lard feeding elicited greater hepatic lipid accumulation, insulin resistance with associated mitochondrial dysfunction, greater oxidative stress and a shift towards mitochondrial fission processes (versus high-fish-oil feeding, which had an anti-steatotic effect associated with increased mitochondrial fusion processes).
Conclusions: Different types of high-fat diets differ in their effect on mitochondrial function and dynamic behaviour, leading to different cellular adaptations to over-feeding.