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J Hepatol. 2008 Feb;48(2):318-26. Epub 2007 Dec 10.

Beneficial effects versus toxicity of medium-chain triacylglycerols in rats with NASH.

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Alcohol Research Center, James J. Peters VA Medical Center, 130 West Kingsbridge Road (151-2), Bronx, NY 10468, USA.



Replacing long-chain triacylglycerols (LCT) with medium-chain triacylglycerols (MCT) reduces alcohol-induced liver injury. Because of the similarity of the pathogenesis of alcohol-induced liver damage and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), our aim was to assess whether MCT is also beneficial in NASH.


We used a rat NASH model in which corn oil (35% of total calories) was isocalorically replaced with MCT.


Partial replacement of LCT did not ameliorate hepatic fat accumulation, 4-hydroxynonenal, collagen type I and its mRNA but it increased TNF-alpha and its mRNA (p<0.001). However, in rats given the high-fat diet restricted to 2/3 of the amount they were consuming, these adverse effects decreased, with and without MCT including less liver steatosis and lower triacylglycerols, but without beneficial effects of MCT. When 70% of the fat calories were replaced with MCT with no LCT remaining in the diet, no steatosis developed and hepatic TNF-alpha was low. When all MCT were given with carbohydrates (instead of LCT) hepatic TNF-alpha also decreased (p<0.001).


MCT are not hepatotoxic, provided the diet contains no significant amount of LCT. Total replacement of dietary LCT with MCT fed ad libitum is beneficial whereas partial replacement becomes hepatotoxic, unless the dietary intake is restricted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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