Betaine Supplementation Enhances Lipid Metabolism and Improves Insulin Resistance in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet

Nutrients. 2018 Jan 26;10(2):131. doi: 10.3390/nu10020131.


Obesity is a major driver of metabolic diseases such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, certain cancers, and insulin resistance. However, there are no effective drugs to treat obesity. Betaine is a nontoxic, chemically stable and naturally occurring molecule. This study shows that dietary betaine supplementation significantly inhibits the white fat production in a high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obese mice. This might be due to betaine preventing the formation of new white fat (WAT), and guiding the original WAT to burn through stimulated mitochondrial biogenesis and promoting browning of WAT. Furthermore, dietary betaine supplementation decreases intramyocellular lipid accumulation in HFD-induced obese mice. Further analysis shows that betaine supplementation reduced intramyocellular lipid accumulation might be associated with increasing polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), fatty acid oxidation, and the inhibition of fatty acid synthesis in muscle. Notably, by performing insulin-tolerance tests (ITTs) and glucose-tolerance tests (GTTs), dietary betaine supplementation could be observed for improvement of obesity and non-obesity induced insulin resistance. Together, these findings could suggest that inhibiting WAT production, intramyocellular lipid accumulation and inflammation, betaine supplementation limits HFD-induced obesity and improves insulin resistance.

Keywords: WAT; betaine; insulin resistance; intramyocellular lipids; obesity.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes, White / cytology
  • Adipocytes, White / metabolism
  • Adipocytes, White / pathology
  • Adipogenesis
  • Adiposity*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Outbred Strains
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Betaine / adverse effects
  • Betaine / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / diet therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / pathology
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Hyperglycemia / prevention & control
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism
  • Lipid Droplets / pathology
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Weight Gain


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Betaine