Polyphenol-rich virgin olive oil reduces insulin resistance and liver inflammation and improves mitochondrial dysfunction in high-fat diet fed rats

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Mar;61(3). doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201600418. Epub 2016 Dec 20.


Scope: Virgin olive oil is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are mainly linked to phenolic contents. This study aims to evaluate the beneficial effects of a polyphenol-rich virgin olive oil (HPCOO) or olive oil without polyphenols (WPOO) in rats fed high-fat diet (HFD).

Methods and results: Male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into four groups based on the different types of diet: (I) standard diet (STD); (II) HFD; (III) HFD containing WPOO, and (IV) HFD containing HPCOO. HPCOO and WPOO induced a significant improvement of HFD-induced impaired glucose homeostasis (by hyperglycemia, altered oral glucose tolerance, and HOMA-IR) and inflammatory status modulating pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1, and IL-10) and adipokines. Moreover, HPCOO and less extensively WPOO, limited HFD-induced liver oxidative and nitrosative stress and increased hepatic fatty acid oxidation. To study mitochondrial performance, oxidative capacity and energy efficiency were also evaluated in isolated liver mitochondria. HPCOO, but not WPOO, reduced H2 O2 release and aconitase activity by decreasing degree of coupling, which plays a major role in the control of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species emission.

Conclusion: HPCOO limits HFD-induced insulin resistance, inflammation, and hepatic oxidative stress, preventing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease progression.

Keywords: Inflammation; Mediterranean diet; Mitochondrial and hepatic oxidative stress; Nonalcoholic Fatty liver disease; Olive oil polyphenols.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / blood
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hepatitis / diet therapy*
  • Hepatitis / etiology
  • Hepatitis / physiopathology
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mitochondria, Liver / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria, Liver / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / diet therapy
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / physiopathology
  • Olive Oil / chemistry
  • Olive Oil / pharmacology*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tocopherols / pharmacology


  • Adipokines
  • Cytokines
  • Olive Oil
  • Polyphenols
  • Glucose
  • Tocopherols