High-protein-low-carbohydrate diet: deleterious metabolic and cardiovascular effects depend on age

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2014 Sep 1;307(5):H649-57. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00291.2014. Epub 2014 Jul 11.


High-protein-low-carbohydrate (HP-LC) diets have become widespread. Yet their deleterious consequences, especially on glucose metabolism and arteries, have already been underlined. Our previous study (2) has already shown glucose intolerance with major arterial dysfunction in very old mice subjected to an HP-LC diet. The hypothesis of this work was that this diet had an age-dependent deleterious metabolic and cardiovascular outcome. Two groups of mice, young and adult (3 and 6 mo old), were subjected for 12 wk to a standard or to an HP-LC diet. Glucose and lipid metabolism was studied. The cardiovascular system was explored from the functional stage with Doppler-echography to the molecular stage (arterial reactivity, mRNA, immunohistochemistry). Young mice did not exhibit any significant metabolic modification, whereas adult mice presented marked glucose intolerance associated with an increase in resistin and triglyceride levels. These metabolic disturbances were responsible for cardiovascular damages only in adult mice, with decreased aortic distensibility and left ventricle dysfunction. These seemed to be the consequence of arterial dysfunctions. Mesenteric arteries were the worst affected with a major oxidative stress, whereas aorta function seemed to be maintained with an appreciable role of cyclooxygenase-2 to preserve endothelial function. This study highlights for the first time the age-dependent deleterious effects of an HP-LC diet on metabolism, with glucose intolerance and lipid disorders and vascular (especially microvessels) and cardiac functions. This work shows that HP-LC lead to equivalent cardiovascular alterations, as observed in very old age, and underlines the danger of such diet.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; glucose intolerance; high-protein-low-carbohydrate diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Aorta / metabolism*
  • Aorta / pathology
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / adverse effects
  • Echocardiography
  • Glucose Intolerance / etiology*
  • Glucose Intolerance / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Mesenteric Arteries / metabolism
  • Mesenteric Arteries / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Resistin / blood
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left / etiology*
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Resistin
  • Triglycerides