Coconut phytocompounds inhibits polyol pathway enzymes: Implication in prevention of microvascular diabetic complications

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2017 Dec;127:20-24. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2017.10.004. Epub 2017 Oct 7.


Coconut oil (CO), the primary choice of cooking purposes in the south Asian countries, is rich in medium chain saturated fatty acids, especially lauric acid (50-52%). The oil has high medicinal use in Ayurvedic system and known to contain polyphenolic antioxidants. Studies have reported that CO improves insulin sensitivity and shows hypoglycemic effect. However, there is no information regarding its effect on chronic diabetic complications including retinopathy and nephropathy is available. The secondary diabetic complications are mediated by the activation of polyol pathway, where aldose reductase (AR) plays crucial role. In this study, in silico analysis has been used to screen the effect of CO as well as its constituents, MCFAs and phenolic compounds, for targeting the molecules in polyol pathway. The study revealed that lauric acid (LA) interacts with AR and DPP-IV of polyol pathway and inhibits the activity of these enzymes. Validation studies using animal models confirmed the inhibition of AR and SDH in wistar rats. Further, the LA dose dependently reduced the expression of AR in HCT-15 cells. Together, the study suggests the possible role of CO, particularly LA in reducing secondary diabetic complications.

Keywords: Aldose reductase; Coconut oil; Diabetes; Dipeptidyl peptidase-4; Lauric acid; Medium chain saturated fatty acid.

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Reductase / chemistry
  • Aldehyde Reductase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Coconut Oil / chemistry
  • Coconut Oil / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / diet therapy*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / pathology
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / diet therapy*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / pathology
  • Fatty Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Lauric Acids / chemistry
  • Lauric Acids / therapeutic use
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic
  • Polymers / chemistry
  • Polyphenols / chemistry
  • Polyphenols / therapeutic use
  • Rats


  • Antioxidants
  • Fatty Acids
  • Lauric Acids
  • Polymers
  • Polyphenols
  • polyol
  • lauric acid
  • Aldehyde Reductase
  • Coconut Oil