Dietary saturated fatty acids: a novel treatment for alcoholic liver disease

Gastroenterology. 1995 Aug;109(2):547-54. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(95)90344-5.


Background & aims: Lipid peroxidation may be important in the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver injury. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a saturated fatty acid-based therapy (palm oil) could decrease lipid peroxidation and alcoholic liver injury during ethanol withdrawal.

Methods: Three groups of male Wistar rats (5 rats/group) were studied. Rats in group 1 were fed a fish oil-ethanol diet for 6 weeks; rats in groups 2 and 3 were fed a fish oil-ethanol diet for 6 weeks before treatment with fish oil-dextrose (group 2) or palm oil-dextrose (group 3) for 2 weeks. Liver samples were analyzed for histopathology, lipid peroxidation, fatty acid composition, cytochrome P450 2E1 activity, and tocopherol levels.

Results: By 6 weeks, all rats had developed fatty liver, inflammation, and necrosis. Group 2 showed minimal histological improvement, whereas group 3 showed near normalization of the histology. The improvement in group 3 was associated with decreased lipid peroxidation and P450 2E1 activity. Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids were detected in group 2 than group 3. Tocopherol levels were similar among the groups.

Conclusions: A diet enriched in saturated but not unsaturated fatty acids reversed alcoholic liver injury. This effect may be explained by down-regulation of lipid peroxidation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / therapeutic use*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Fish Oils / chemistry
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / diet therapy*
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / metabolism
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / pathology
  • Male
  • Palm Oil
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Vitamin E / metabolism


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fish Oils
  • Plant Oils
  • Vitamin E
  • Palm Oil