Context: Excessive cardiac long-chain fatty acid (LCFA) metabolism/storage causes cardiomyopathy in animal models of type 2 diabetes. Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) are absorbed and oxidized efficiently. Data in animal models of diabetes suggest MCFAs may benefit the heart.
Objective: Our objective was to test the effects of an MCFA-rich diet vs an LCFA-rich diet on plasma lipids, cardiac steatosis, and function in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Design: This was a double-blind, randomized, 2-week matched-feeding study.
Setting: The study included ambulatory patients in the general community.
Patients: Sixteen patients, ages 37-65 years, with type 2 diabetes, an ejection fraction greater than 45%, and no other systemic disease were included.
Intervention: Fourteen days of a diet rich in MCFAs or LCFAs, containing 38% as fat in total, was undertaken.
Main outcome measures: Cardiac steatosis and function were the main outcome measures, with lipidomic changes considered a secondary outcome.
Results: The relatively load-independent measure of cardiac contractility, S', improved in the MCFA group (P < .05). Weight-adjusted stroke volume and cardiac output decreased in the LCFA group (both P < .05). The MCFA, but not the LCFA, diet decreased several plasma sphingolipids, ceramide, and acylcarnitines implicated in diabetic cardiomyopathy, and changes in several sphingolipids correlated with improved fasting insulins.
Conclusions: Although a diet high in MCFAs does not change cardiac steatosis, our findings suggest that the MCFA-rich diet alters the plasma lipidome and may benefit or at least not harm cardiac function and fasting insulin levels in humans with type 2 diabetes. Larger, long-term studies are needed to further evaluate these effects in less-controlled settings.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01373814.