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J Pharm Pharmacol. 2006 Feb;58(2):201-7.

Low molecular weight chitosan inhibits obesity induced by feeding a high-fat diet long-term in mice.

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Division of Functional Histology, Department of Integrated Basic Medical Science, School of Medicine, Ehime University, Shitsukawa, Toon-City, Ehime 791-0295, Japan.


Three low molecular weight chitosans (molecular weight: 21, 46 and 130 kDa) obtained by enzymatic hydrolysis of a high molecular weight chitosan (average molecular weight: 650 kDa) had low viscosity and were water-soluble. The effects of these water-soluble chitosans on pancreatic lipase (in-vitro) and the elevation of plasma triacylglycerol concentration after the oral lipid tolerance test were examined in mice. The water-soluble 46-kDa chitosan was the most effective at inhibiting pancreatic lipase activity (in-vitro) and plasma triacylglycerol elevation after the oral lipid tolerance test. Based on this result, the effects of the 46-kDa chitosan on increases in bodyweight, various white adipose tissue weights, and plasma and liver lipids were examined in mice fed a high-fat diet for 20 weeks. Water-soluble 46-kDa chitosan (300 mg kg(-1), twice daily) prevented increases in bodyweight, various white adipose tissue weights and liver lipids (cholesterol and triacylglycerol) in mice fed a high-fat diet, and further increased the faecal bile acid and fat. The results suggest that the lipid-lowering effects of the 46-kDa chitosan may be mediated by increases in faecal fat and/or bile acid excretion resulting from the binding of bile acids, and by a decrease in the absorption of dietary lipids (triacylglycerol and cholesterol) from the small intestine as a result of the inhibition of pancreatic lipase activity. Water-soluble 46-kDa chitosan (100 and 300 mg kg(-1), twice daily) did not cause liver damage with the elevation of glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase and glutamic pyruvic transaminase, or kidney damage with the elevation of blood nitrogen urea. It was concluded that water-soluble 46-kDa chitosan is a safe functional food.

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