Medium-chain triglyceride ameliorates insulin resistance and inflammation in high fat diet-induced obese mice



The aim of the present study was to investigate the in vivo effects of dietary medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) on inflammation and insulin resistance as well as the underlying potential molecular mechanisms in high fat diet-induced obese mice.


Male C57BL/6J mice (n = 24) were fed one of the following three diets for a period of 12 weeks: (1) a modified AIN-76 diet with 5 % corn oil (normal diet); (2) a high-fat control diet (17 % w/w lard and 3 % w/w corn oil, HFC); (3) an isocaloric high-fat diet supplemented with MCT (17 % w/w MCT and 3 % w/w corn oil, HF–MCT). Glucose metabolism was evaluated by fasting blood glucose levels and intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test. Insulin sensitivity was evaluated by fasting serum insulin levels and the index of homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance. The levels of serum interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-10 (IL-10), and tumor necrosis factor-α were measured by ELISA, and hepatic activation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways was determined using western blot analysis.


Compared to HFC diet, consumption of HF-MCT did not induce body weight gain and white adipose tissue accumulation in mice. HFC-induced increases in serum fasting glucose and insulin levels as well as glucose intolerance were prevented by HF-MCT diet. Meanwhile, HF-MCT resulted in significantly lower serum IL-6 level and higher IL-10 level, and lower expression levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 protein in liver tissues when compared to HFC. In addition, HF-MCT attenuated HFC-triggered hepatic activation of NF-κB and p38 MAPK.


Our study demonstrated that MCT was efficacious in suppressing body fat accumulation, insulin resistance, inflammatory response, and NF-κB and p38 MAPK activation in high fat diet-fed mice. These data suggest that MCT may exert beneficial effects against high fat diet-induced insulin resistance and inflammation.

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This study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (81202194, 81072330, 81373005), University Natural Science Research Project in Jiangsu Province (10KJB330001), and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (Public Health and Preventive Medicine). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Caiyun Zhong.

Additional information

Shanshan Geng and Weiwei Zhu have contributed equally to this work.

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Geng, S., Zhu, W., Xie, C. et al. Medium-chain triglyceride ameliorates insulin resistance and inflammation in high fat diet-induced obese mice. Eur J Nutr 55, 931–940 (2016).

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  • Medium-chain triglyceride
  • Insulin resistance
  • Inflammation
  • NF-κB
  • p38 MAPK