New study explores liquid fructose intake and fatty liver disease

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When a high-fat diet is combined with beverages sweetened with liquid fructose, the accumulation of fats in the liver accelerate and hypertriglyceridemia may appear, according to new research.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, was conducted by Juan Carlos Laguna, PhD, a professor from Pharmacy and Food Sciences, at the Institute of Biomedicine of Barcelona and the Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition Networking Biomedical Research Centre.

Researchers sought to delineate the contribution of dietary saturated fatty acids (FA) versus liquid fructose to fatty liver and hypertriglyceridemia.

According to the study, three groups of female rats were evaluated for three months while eating standard food; a high-fat diet; and a high-fat diet with 10 percent fructose in drinking water. Researchers then analyzed zoometric parameters, plasma biochemistry, liver Oil-Red O (ORO) staining, lipidomics, and expression of proteins involved in fatty acid metabolism.

The study concluded that the addition of liquid-fructose to dietary FA was the determinant of liver steatosis and hypertriglyceridemia production, through increased de novo lipogenesis (DNL) and patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing protein 3 (PNPLA3) expression, and reduced FA catabolism.

“In high-fat diets which are supplemented with liquid fructose, this monosaccharide is able to induce an increase in the de novo lipogenesis —that is, the formation of fats through sugar— and an inhibition of the lipid oxidation in the liver,” Laguna said in a statement.

Fructose – unlike high-fat diets – increases the expression of the PNPLA3 protein, associated with the appearance of hypertriglyceridemia, a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, added Núria Roglans, PharmD, co-author of the study.