Betaine alleviates hepatic lipid accumulation via enhancing hepatic lipid export and fatty acid oxidation in rats fed with a high-fat diet

Br J Nutr. 2015 Jun 28;113(12):1835-43. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515001130. Epub 2015 Apr 29.


To assess the effects of betaine on hepatic lipid accumulation and investigate the underlying mechanism, thirty-two male Sprague-Dawley rats weighing 100 (sd 2·50) g were divided into four groups, and started on one of four treatments: basal diet, basal diet with betaine administration, high-fat diet and high-fat diet with betaine administration. The results showed that no significant difference of body weight was found among experimental groups. Compared with high-fat diet-fed rats, a betaine supplementation decreased (P< 0·05) hepatic TAG accumulation induced by high-fat diet, which was also supported by hepatic histology results. Additionally, hepatic betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase concentration [corrected] as well as its mRNA abundance and lecithin level were found increased (P< 0·05) by betaine supplementation in both basal diet-fed rats and high-fat diet-fed rats. Betaine administration in high-fat diet-fed rats exhibited a higher (P< 0·05) concentration [corrected] of hepatic carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT1) compared with high-fat diet-fed rats. High-fat diet inhibited (P< 0·05) the gene expression of hepatic PPARα and CPT1. However, betaine administration in high-fat diet-fed rats elevated (P< 0·05) the gene expression of PPARα and CPT1. Moreover, concentration, gene and protein expressions of hepatic fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) were increased (P< 0·05) in response to betaine administration in high-fat diet group; meanwhile the gene expression of hepatic AMP-activated protein kinase was increased (P< 0·05) as well. The results suggest that betaine administration enhanced hepatic lipid export and fatty acid oxidation in high-fat diet-fed rats, thus effectively alleviating fat accumulation in the liver.

Keywords: Betaine; High-fat diet; Lipid accumulation; Liver; Rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Animals
  • Betaine / administration & dosage*
  • Betaine-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Betaine-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Carnitine O-Palmitoyltransferase / genetics
  • Carnitine O-Palmitoyltransferase / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Lecithins / analysis
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Lipotropic Agents
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • PPAR alpha / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids
  • Lecithins
  • Lipotropic Agents
  • PPAR alpha
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Triglycerides
  • Betaine
  • Betaine-Homocysteine S-Methyltransferase
  • Carnitine O-Palmitoyltransferase
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases