Research Article| Volume 24, ISSUE 2, P198-204, February 2014

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Dietary fat differentially modulate the mRNA expression levels of oxidative mitochondrial genes in skeletal muscle of healthy subjects

Published:December 23, 2013DOI:


      Background and aims

      Different types of dietary fats exert differential effects on glucose and lipid metabolism. Our aim was to evaluate the impact of different dietary fats on the expression of skeletal muscle genes regulating mitochondrial replication and function in healthy subjects.

      Methods and results

      Ten healthy subjects (age 29 ± 3 years; BMI 25.0 ± 3 kg/m2) received in a random order a test meal with the same energy content but different composition in macronutrients and quality of fat: Mediterranean (MED) meal, SAFA meal (Lipid 66%, saturated 36%) and MUFA meal (Lipid 63%, monounsaturated 37%). At fast and after 180 min, a fine needle aspiration was performed from the vastus lateralis for determination of mitochondrial gene expression by quantitative PCR. No difference in glucose and triglyceride response was observed between the three meals, while NEFA levels were significantly higher following fat-rich meals compared to MED meal (p < 0.002–0.0001). MED meal was associated with an increased expression, albeit not statistically significant, of some genes regulating both replication and function. Following MUFA meal, a significant increase in the expression of PGC1β (p = 0.02) and a reduction in the transcription factor PPARδ (p = 0.006) occurred with no change in the expression of COX and GLUT4 genes. In contrast, SAFA meal was associated with a marked reduction in the expression of COX (p < 0.001) PFK (p < 0.003), LPL (p = 0.002) and GLUT4 (p = 0.009) genes.


      Dietary fats differentially modulate gene transcriptional profile since saturated, but not monounsaturated fat, downregulate the expression of genes regulating muscle glucose transport and oxidation.



      CHO (carbohydrate), COX (cytocrome c oxidase), NEFA (non esterified fatty acids), FNA (fine needle aspiration), MED (Mediterranean), MUFA (monounsaturated fat), OXPHOS (oxidative phosphorylation), PGC1α – PGC1β (proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator α – β), SAFA (saturated fat)
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