Antimicrobial Emulsifier-Glycerol Monolaurate Induces Metabolic Syndrome, Gut Microbiota Dysbiosis, and Systemic Low-Grade Inflammation in Low-Fat Diet Fed Mice

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2018 Feb;62(3). doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201700547. Epub 2018 Jan 9.


Scope: Glycerol monolaurate (GML) is widely consumed worldwide in the food industry and is considered safe, but for chronic diseases, supporting scientific data remain sparse. This study investigates whether dietary GML induces metabolic syndrome, gut microbiota dysbiosis, and systemic low-grade inflammation.

Methods and results: GML-induced occurrence of metabolic syndrome, gut microbiota alterations, and systemic low-grade inflammation are investigated. The results demonstrate that GML induced metabolic syndrome by significantly increasing the body weight, weight gain, food intake, body fat, fat droplet size and percentage of epididymal fat, serum triglycerides (TG), LDL, and atherogenic index, and decreasing the body muscle ratio, liver weight, and HDL, compared to the control (CON) group. Meanwhile, GML significantly changed the β-diversity and composition of gut microbiota and upregulated the circulating levels of serum LPS, IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α. Importantly, GML significantly decreased Akkermansia muciniphila and Lupinus luteus, and increased Bacteroides acidifaciens, Escherichia coli and the microbial DNA abundance of the ten predicated metabolism pathways involved in carbohydrate, amino acid, and lipid metabolism.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that relatively low-dose GML consumption promotes metabolic syndrome, gut microbiota dysbiosis, and systemic low-grade inflammation, thereby calling for a reassessment of GML usage.

Keywords: glycerol monolaurate; gut microbiota; lipopolysaccharide; metabolic syndrome; systemic low-grade inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / adverse effects
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects
  • Dysbiosis / chemically induced*
  • Emulsifying Agents / adverse effects
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics
  • Inflammation / chemically induced*
  • Laurates / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / chemically induced*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monoglycerides / adverse effects*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Emulsifying Agents
  • Laurates
  • Monoglycerides
  • monolaurin