Role of Choline Deficiency in the Fatty Liver Phenotype of Mice Fed a Low Protein, Very Low Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet

Rebecca C. Schugar, Xiaojing Huang, Ashley R. Moll, Elizabeth M. Brunt, Peter A. Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Though widely employed for clinical intervention in obesity, metabolic syndrome, seizure disorders and other neurodegenerative diseases, the mechanisms through which low carbohydrate ketogenic diets exert their ameliorative effects still remain to be elucidated. Rodent models have been used to identify the metabolic and physiologic alterations provoked by ketogenic diets. A commonly used rodent ketogenic diet (Bio-Serv F3666) that is very high in fat (~94% kcal), very low in carbohydrate (~1% kcal), low in protein (~5% kcal), and choline restricted (~300 mg/kg) provokes robust ketosis and weight loss in mice, but through unknown mechanisms, also causes significant hepatic steatosis, inflammation, and cellular injury. To understand the independent and synergistic roles of protein restriction and choline deficiency on the pleiotropic effects of rodent ketogenic diets, we studied four custom diets that differ only in protein (5% kcal vs. 10% kcal) and choline contents (300 mg/kg vs. 5 g/kg). C57BL/6J mice maintained on the two 5% kcal protein diets induced the most significant ketoses, which was only partially diminished by choline replacement. Choline restriction in the setting of 10% kcal protein also caused moderate ketosis and hepatic fat accumulation, which were again attenuated when choline was replete. Key effects of the 5% kcal protein diet - weight loss, hepatic fat accumulation, and mitochondrial ultrastructural disarray and bioenergetic dysfunction - were mitigated by choline repletion. These studies indicate that synergistic effects of protein restriction and choline deficiency influence integrated metabolism and hepatic pathology in mice when nutritional fat content is very high, and support the consideration of dietary choline content in ketogenic diet studies in rodents to limit hepatic mitochondrial dysfunction and fat accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere74806
JournalPloS one
Volume8
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 29 2013

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