Octacosanol and policosanol prevent high-fat diet-induced obesity and metabolic disorders by activating brown adipose tissue and improving liver metabolism

Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 26;9(1):5169. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-41631-1.


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is an attractive therapeutic target for treating obesity and metabolic diseases. Octacosanol is the main component of policosanol, a mixture of very long chain aliphatic alcohols obtained from plants. The current study aimed to investigate the effect of octacosanol and policosanol on high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity. Mice were fed on chow, or HFD, with or without octacosanol or policosanol treatment for four weeks. HFD-fed mice showed significantly higher body weight and body fat compared with chow-fed mice. However, mice fed on HFD treated with octacosanol or policosanol (HFDo/p) showed lower body weight gain, body fat gain, insulin resistance and hepatic lipid content. Lower body fat gain after octacosanol or policosanol was associated with increased BAT activity, reduced expression of genes involved in lipogenesis and cholesterol uptake in the liver, and amelioration of white adipose tissue (WAT) inflammation. Moreover, octacosanol and policosanol significantly increased the expression of Ffar4, a gene encoding polyunsaturated fatty acid receptor, which activates BAT thermogenesis. Together, these results suggest that octacosanol and policosanol ameliorate diet-induced obesity and metabolic disorders by increasing BAT activity and improving hepatic lipid metabolism. Thus, these lipids represent promising therapeutic targets for the prevention and treatment of obesity and obesity-related metabolic disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism*
  • Adipose Tissue, White / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Fatty Alcohols / pharmacology
  • Fatty Alcohols / therapeutic use*
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Insulin / blood
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases / blood
  • Metabolic Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Metabolic Diseases / genetics
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Fatty Alcohols
  • Insulin
  • policosanol
  • 1-octacosanol