Intestinal, liver and lipid disorders in genetically obese rats are more efficiently reduced by dietary milk thistle seeds than their oil

Sci Rep. 2021 Oct 22;11(1):20895. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-00397-1.


We hypothesized that milk thistle seed or seed oil dietary supplementation reduces intestinal, liver and lipid disorders specific to genetic obesity, and the seeds can be more efficient in doing so. Lean and obese male Zucker rats were allocated to 4 groups: the lean (LC) and obese control (OC) groups fed a standard diet and the other 2 obese groups fed a diet supplemented with milk thistle seed oil (O + MTO) or milk thistle seeds (O + MTS). After 5 weeks of feeding, the cecal SCFA pool was slightly and significantly lower in OC and O + MTO compared with LC and O + MTS. The liver fat content was greater in OC, O + MTO and O + MTS compared with LC; however, it was significantly lower in O + MTS than in OC and O + MTO. The plasma cholesterol was greater in OC compared with LC, O + MTO and O + MTS; however, it was significantly greater in O + MTO and O + MTS compared with LC. The plasma bilirubin was detected in OC and O + MTO, whereas it was not present in LC and O + MTS. Milk thistle seeds can improve fermentation events in the distal intestine and reduce other disorders specific to genetically obese rats, and the seed PUFAs are responsible for that to a lesser extent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Intestines / drug effects*
  • Lipid Metabolism Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Milk Thistle / chemistry*
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker
  • Seeds / chemistry*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils