Dietary saturated fatty acid type impacts obesity-induced metabolic dysfunction and plasma lipidomic signatures in mice

J Nutr Biochem. 2019 Feb;64:32-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2018.10.005. Epub 2018 Oct 21.


Saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and hepatic steatosis, but scant work examines the impact of SFA type upon these outcomes. We tested the hypothesis that an obesogenic diet prepared with medium chain SFA (MCSFA), mostly as lauric acid-derived from coconut oil, reduces obesity-induced outcomes compared to obesogenic diets prepared with increasing amounts long chain SFA (LCSFA), primarily palmitic acid. Mice were fed (16 weeks) a control, low fat diet or obesogenic diets prepared with differing content of MCSFA or LCSFA in which polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (PUFA; MUFA) were kept constant. Inclusion of MCSFA in an obesogenic diet prevented hepatic lipid accumulation and lowered indices of insulin resistance. Obesogenic diets reduced hepatic levels of de novo lipogenesis proteins (SCD1 and FASN) but elevated the adipose levels of mRNA for the pro-inflammatory markers Mcp-1 and Tnfα. Lipidomic analysis of plasma indicated that MCSFA intake resulted in a different lipidomic signature than LCSFA intake, prevented elevation of pro-inflammatory ceramides, but elevated concentrations of some lipids associated with elevated cardiovascular disease risk. Intake of the obesogenic diets in an SFA-type dependent manner elevated plasma concentrations of several phosphatidylcholine (PC) lipids having the long chain PUFA (LCPUFA) arachidonic acid (ARA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), altered phospholipid ethers, and changed the triacylglyceryl environments of these LCPUFA. Our data indicate that (1) MCSFA reduce the severity of some obesogenic co-morbidities, (2) SFA-type modulates lipidomic signatures associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and (3) dietary SFA type impacts LCPUFA metabolism.

Keywords: Ceramides; Insulin resistance; Lipidomics; Medium chain triglycerides; Obesity; Steatosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ceramides / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / pharmacology
  • Hepatitis / etiology
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Lipogenesis / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Panniculitis / etiology
  • Panniculitis / prevention & control


  • Ceramides
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Lipids