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In Silico and Wet Lab Studies Reveal the Cholesterol Lowering Efficacy of Lauric Acid, a Medium Chain Fat of Coconut Oil


The coconut oil (CO) contains 91 % of saturated fatty acids in which 72 % are medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) like lauric, capric and caprylic acids. In contrast to animal fat, coconut oil has no cholesterol. Despite this fact, CO is sidelined among other vegetable oils due to the health hazards attributed to the saturated fatty acids. Though various medicinal effects of CO have been reported including the hypolipidemic activity, people are still confused in the consumption of this natural oil. In silico analyses and wet lab experiments have been carried out to identify the hypolipidemic properties of MCFAs and phenolic acids in CO by using different protein targets involved in cholesterol synthesis. The molecular docking studies were carried out using CDOCKER protocol in Accelery’s Discovery Studio, by taking different proteins like HMG- CoA reductase and cholesterol esterase as targets and the different phytocompounds in coconut as ligands. Molecular docking highlighted the potential of lauric acid in inhibiting the protein targets involved in hyperlipidemics. Further, validation of in silico results was carried out through in vivo studies. The activity of key enzymes HMG- CoA reductase and lipoprotein lipase were found reduced in animals fed with lauric acid and CO.

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Fig. 1



Medium chain fatty acids


Absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, toxicity


Lauric acid high dose


LLD Lauric acid low dose


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Authors are thankful to DBT, Government of India and Kerala Agricultural University, Vellanikkara, Thrissur for providing the research fellowship to undertake this work. Dr. Ramadasan Kuttan, Research Director, Amala Cancer Research Centre, Thrissur is duly acknowledged for providing the facility for animal works and analysis. Arunaksharan N acknowledge Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Govt. of India for senior research fellowship (09/869(0012)/2012 EMR-I). JJ Manalil acknowledge DST-Inspire program for senior research fellowship.

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Correspondence to Devi Lekshmi Sheela.

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Lekshmi Sheela, D., Nazeem, P.A., Narayanankutty, A. et al. In Silico and Wet Lab Studies Reveal the Cholesterol Lowering Efficacy of Lauric Acid, a Medium Chain Fat of Coconut Oil. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 71, 410–415 (2016).

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  • Coconut oil
  • MCFAs
  • Molecular docking
  • Discovery studio
  • HMG- Co-A reductase
  • Cholesterol esterase