Hydroxytyrosol prevents metabolic impairment reducing hepatic inflammation and restoring duodenal integrity in a rat model of NAFLD

J Nutr Biochem. 2016 Apr:30:108-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2015.12.004. Epub 2016 Jan 4.


The potential mechanisms of action of polyphenols in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are overlooked. Here, we evaluate the beneficial therapeutic effects of hydroxytyrosol (HT), the major metabolite of the oleuropein, in a nutritional model of insulin resistance (IR) and NAFLD by high-fat diet. Young male rats were divided into three groups receiving (1) standard diet (STD; 10.5% fat), (2) high-fat diet (HFD; 58.0% fat) and (3) HFD+HT (10 mg/kg/day by gavage). After 5 weeks, the oral glucose tolerance test was performed, and at 6th week, blood sample and tissues (liver and duodenum) were collected for following determinations. The HT-treated rats showed a marked reduction in serum AST, ALT and cholesterol and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, reducing homeostasis model assessment index. HT significantly corrected the metabolic impairment induced by HFD, increasing hepatic peroxisome proliferator activated receptor PPAR-α and its downstream-regulated gene fibroblast growth factor 21, the phosphorylation of acetyl-CoA carboxylase and the mRNA carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1a. HT also reduced liver inflammation and nitrosative/oxidative stress decreasing the nitrosylation of proteins, reactive oxygen species production and lipid peroxidation. Moreover, HT restored intestinal barrier integrity and functions (fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran permeability and mRNA zona occludens ZO-1). Our data demonstrate the beneficial effect of HT in the prevention of early inflammatory events responsible for the onset of IR and steatosis, reducing hepatic inflammation and nitrosative/oxidative stress and restoring glucose homeostasis and intestinal barrier integrity.

Keywords: Duodenal permeability; Glucose tolerance; Insulin resistance; Liver inflammation; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; Olive oil polyphenols.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Duodenum / physiopathology
  • Hepatitis / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / physiopathology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / therapy*
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol / pharmacology
  • Rats


  • 3,4-dihydroxyphenylethanol
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol