Excess ectopic fat storage is linked to type 2 diabetes. The importance of dietary fat composition for ectopic fat storage in humans is unknown. We investigated liver fat accumulation and body composition during overfeeding saturated (SFA) or polyunsaturated (PUFA) fat. LIPOGAIN was a double-blind, parallel-group, randomized trial. Thirty-nine young and normal-weight individuals were overfed muffins high in SFA (palm oil) or n-6 PUFA (sunflower oil) for 7 weeks. Liver fat, visceral (VAT), subcutaneous abdominal (SAT), and total adipose tissue (TAT), pancreatic fat, and lean tissue was assessed by MRI. Transcriptomics were performed in SAT. Both groups gained similar weight. SFA however markedly increased liver fat compared with PUFA and caused 2-fold larger increase in VAT than PUFA. Conversely, PUFA caused a nearly 3-fold larger increase in lean tissue than SFA. Increase in liver fat directly correlated with changes in plasma SFA and inversely with PUFA. Genes involved in regulating energy dissipation, insulin resistance, body composition and fat cell differentiation in SAT were differentially regulated between diets, and associated with increased PUFA in SAT. In conclusion, overeating SFA promotes hepatic and visceral fat storage whereas excess energy from PUFA may instead promote lean tissue in healthy humans.
- Received October 20, 2013.
- Accepted February 14, 2014.
- © 2014 by the American Diabetes Association.
Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ for details.