The flavan-3-ol fraction of cocoa powder suppressed changes associated with early-stage metabolic syndrome in high-fat diet-fed rats

Life Sci. 2014 Sep 26;114(1):51-6. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2014.07.041. Epub 2014 Aug 14.


Aims: Previous epidemiological studies have suggested that ingestion of chocolate reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. In the present study, we examined the effects of flavan-3-ols derived from cocoa on blood pressure, lipolysis, and thermogenesis in rats fed a high-fat diet and that showed early signs of metabolic syndrome.

Main methods: The rats were divided into three groups, and fed either normal diet (normal), 60% fat high-fat diet (HFD), or HFD containing 0.2% flavan-3-ols (HFD-flavan) for 4 weeks. At the end of the feeding period, blood pressure was measured and animals were sacrificed under anesthesia. Lipolysis and thermogenesis-related protein levels were measured in several tissues by Western blotting, and mitochondrial DNA copy number was measured by RT-PCR.

Key findings: Mean blood pressure and epididymal adipose tissue weight of HFD-flavan were significantly lower compared with those of HFD. Uncoupling protein (UCP)1 in brown adipose tissue and UCP3 in gastrocnemius of HFD-flavan were significantly increased compared with those of HFD group. Carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT) 2 levels in liver and medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) levels in gastrocnemius and liver were significantly increased by the supplementation of flavan-3-ols.

Significance: In addition to having hypotensive effects, flavan-3-ols enhance thermogenesis and lipolysis and consequently reduce white adipose tissue weight gain in response to high-fat diet feeding.

Keywords: Flavan-3-ols; Lipolysis; Thermogenesis; Uncoupling proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, White / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cacao / chemistry*
  • Carnitine O-Palmitoyltransferase / metabolism
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / metabolism
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Flavonoids / isolation & purification
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Lipolysis / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Thermogenesis / drug effects
  • Uncoupling Protein 1
  • Uncoupling Protein 3
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Flavonoids
  • Ion Channels
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Ucp1 protein, rat
  • Ucp3 protein, rat
  • Uncoupling Protein 1
  • Uncoupling Protein 3
  • flavan-3-ol
  • Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase
  • Carnitine O-Palmitoyltransferase