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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53828. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053828. Epub 2013 Jan 14.

Multi-functional roles of chitosan as a potential protective agent against obesity.

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School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Lyons Research Farm, Newcastle, Co. Dublin, Ireland.


Chitosan, a natural polysaccharide comprising copolymers of glucosamine and N-acetylglucosamine, has been shown to have anti-obesity properties. Two experiments (Exp. 1 and Exp. 2) were performed to determine the role of chitosan on dietary intake, body weight gain, and fat deposition in a pig model, as well as identifying potential mechanisms underlying the anti-obesity effect of chitosan. In Exp. 1, the nutrient digestibility experiment, 16 pigs (nā€Š=ā€Š4/treatment) were randomly allocated to one of four dietary treatments as follows: 1) basal diet; 2) basal diet plus 300 ppm chitosan; 3) basal diet plus 600 ppm chitosan; 4) basal diet plus 1200 ppm chitosan. The main observation was that crude fat digestibility was lower in the 1200 ppm chitosan group when compared with the control group (P<0.05). In Exp. 2, a total of 80 pigs (nā€Š=ā€Š20/treatment) were offered identical dietary treatments to that offered to animals in Exp. 1. Blood samples were collected on day 0, day 35 and at the end of the experiment (day 57). Animals offered diets containing 1200 ppm chitosan had a lower daily dietary intake (P<0.001) and body weight gain (P<0.001) from day 35 to 57 when compared with all the other treatment groups. Animals offered diets containing 1200 ppm chitosan had a significantly lower final body weight (P<0.01) when compared with all the other treatment groups. The decreased dietary intake observed in the 1200 ppm chitosan group was associated with increased serum leptin concentrations (P<0.001) and a decrease in serum C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations (P<0.05). In conclusion, the results of this study highlight novel endocrine mechanisms involving the modulation of serum leptin and CRP concentrations by which chitosan exhibits anti-obesity properties in vivo.

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