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Diabetologia. 2016 Dec;59(12):2697-2701. Epub 2016 Sep 20.

Reduction in liver fat by dietary MUFA in type 2 diabetes is helped by enhanced hepatic fat oxidation.

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Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, Federico II University, Via Pansini 5, 80131, Naples, Italy.
Institute of Biostructures and Bioimaging, National Research Council, Naples, Italy.
Department of Chemical Science, Federico II University, Naples, Italy.
Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, Federico II University, Via Pansini 5, 80131, Naples, Italy.



The aim of this work was to investigate hepatic lipid metabolic processes possibly involved in the reduction of liver fat content (LF) observed in patients with type 2 diabetes after an isoenergetic diet enriched in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs).


This is an ancillary analysis of a published study. In a parallel-group design, 30 men and eight women, aged 35-70 years, with type 2 diabetes and whose blood glucose was controlled satisfactorily (HbA1c < 7.5% [58 mmol/mol]) by diet or diet plus metformin, were randomised by MINIM software to follow either a high-carbohydrate/high-fibre/low-glycaemic index diet (CHO/fibre diet, n = 20) or a high-MUFA diet (MUFA diet, n = 18) for 8 weeks. The assigned diets were known for the participants and blinded for people doing measurements. Before and after intervention, LF was measured by 1H-MRS (primary outcome) and indirect indices of de novo lipogenesis (DNL) (serum triacylglycerol palmitic:linoleic acid ratio), stearoyl-CoA desaturase activity (SCD-1) (serum triacylglycerol palmitoleic:palmitic acid ratio) and hepatic β-oxidation of fatty acids (β-hydroxybutyrate plasma concentrations) were measured.


LF was reduced by 30% after the MUFA diet, as already reported. Postprandial β-hydroxybutyrate incremental AUC (iAUC) was significantly less suppressed after the MUFA diet (n = 16) (-2504 ± 4488 μmol/l × 360 min vs baseline -9021 ± 6489 μmol/l × 360 min) while it was unchanged after the CHO/fibre diet (n = 17) (-8168 ± 9827 μmol/l × 360 min vs baseline -7206 ± 10,005 μmol/l × 360 min, p = 0.962) (mean ± SD, p = 0.043). In the participants assigned to the MUFA diet, the change in postprandial β-hydroxybutyrate iAUC was inversely associated with the change in LF (r = -0.642, p = 0.010). DNL and SCD-1 indirect indices did not change significantly after either of the dietary interventions.


Postprandial hepatic oxidation of fatty acids is a metabolic process possibly involved in the reduction of LF by a MUFA-rich diet in patients with type 2 diabetes.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01025856 FUNDING : The study was funded by Ministero Istruzione Università e Ricerca and Italian Minister of Health.


De novo lipogenesis; Diet; Liver fat; Monounsaturated fatty acids; Stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturase-1 activity; Type 2 Diabetes; β-Hydroxybutyrate; β-Oxidation

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