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Can a Gluten-free Diet Prevent Obesity and Metabolic Disorders?

Celiac.com 08/04/2014 - Can excluding gluten, the protein complex present in many cereals, help to prevent diseases other than celiac disease? Seeking to gain insight into the effects of gluten-free diets on obesity, and its mechanisms of action, a research team set out to assess whether gluten exclusion can prevent the development and expansion of adipose tissue.

Photo: CC--FBellonSpecifically, they wanted to determine if a gluten-free diet reduces adiposity, inflammation and insulin resistance associated with the induction of PPAR-alpha and PPAR-gamma expression. The researchers included F.L. Soares, R. de Oliveira Matoso, L.G. Teixeira, Z. Menezes, S.S. Pereira, A.C. Alves, N.V. Batista, A.M. de Faria, D.C. Cara, A.V. Ferreira, and J.I. Alvarez-Leite. The are affiliated with the Departamento de Alimentos, Faculdade de Farmácia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

For their study, they fed a high-fat diet containing 4.5% gluten to a control group of C57BL/6 mice, and a gluten-free diet to another group of C57BL/6 mice. The team measured body weight and adiposity gains, leukocyte rolling and adhesion, macrophage infiltration and cytokine production in adipose tissue. They also measured blood lipid profiles, glycaemia, insulin resistance and adipokines, and determined expression of the PPAR-α and γ, lipoprotein lipase (LPL), hormone sensitive lipase (HSL), carnitine palmitoyl acyltransferase-1 (CPT-1), insulin receptor, GLUT-4 and adipokines in epidydimal fat.

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The gluten-free mice had less body weight gain and adiposity, with no changes in food intake or lipid excretion. These results are associated with up-regulation of PPAR-α, LPL, HSL and CPT-1, which are related to lipolysis and fatty acid oxidation.

Gluten-free mice also showed improved glucose homeostasis and pro-inflammatory profile-related over-expression of PPAR-γ. Moreover, intravital microscopy showed a lower number of adhered cells in the adipose tissue microvasculature. The overexpression of PPAR-γ is related to the increase of adiponectin and GLUT-4.

The study data support the beneficial effects of gluten-free diets in reducing adiposity gain, inflammation and insulin resistance. The data suggests that a gluten-free diet should be tested as a new dietary approach to preventing obesity and metabolic disorders.

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