The addition of medium-chain triglycerides to a purified fish oil-based diet alters inflammatory profiles in mice

Metabolism. 2015 Feb;64(2):274-82. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2014.10.005. Epub 2014 Oct 13.


Objective: Parenteral nutrition associated liver disease (PNALD) is a deadly complication of long term parenteral nutrition (PN) use in infants. Fish oil-based lipid emulsion has been shown in recent years to effectively treat PNALD. Alternative fat sources free of essential fatty acids have recently been investigated for health benefits related to decreased inflammatory response. We hypothesized that the addition of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) to a purified fish oil-based diet would decrease the response to inflammatory challenge in mice, while allowing for sufficient growth and development.

Materials/methods: Six groups of ten adult male C57/Bl6 mice were pair-fed different dietary treatments for a period of twelve weeks, varying only in fat source (percent calories by weight): 10.84% soybean oil (SOY), 10% coconut oil (HCO), 10% medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), 3% purified fish oil (PFO), 3% purified fish oil with 3% medium-chain triglycerides (50:50 MCT:PFO) and 3% purified fish oil with 7.59% medium-chain triglycerides (70:30 MCT:PFO). An endotoxin challenge was administered to half of the animals in each group at the completion of dietary treatment.

Results: All groups demonstrated normal growth throughout the study period. Groups fed MCT and HCO diets demonstrated biochemical essential fatty acid deficiency and decreased IL-6 and TNF-α response to endotoxin challenge. Groups containing PFO had increased inflammatory response to endotoxin challenge, and the addition of MCT to PFO mitigated this inflammatory response.

Conclusion: These results suggest that the addition of MCT to PFO formulations may decrease the host response to inflammatory challenge, which may pose potential for optimized PN formulations. Inclusion of MCT in lipid emulsions given with PN formulations may be of use in therapeutic interventions for disease states resulting from chronic inflammation.

Keywords: Fish oil; Inflammation; Medium-chain triglycerides; Parenteral nutrition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Deficiency Diseases / etiology
  • Deficiency Diseases / prevention & control
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / therapeutic use*
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Emulsions
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / deficiency
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / therapeutic use
  • Fish Oils / adverse effects
  • Fish Oils / chemistry
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Liver / immunology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / etiology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / prevention & control*
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total / adverse effects
  • Triglycerides / administration & dosage
  • Triglycerides / adverse effects
  • Triglycerides / chemistry
  • Triglycerides / therapeutic use*
  • Weight Gain


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Emulsions
  • Fatty Acids, Essential
  • Fish Oils
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Triglycerides