Does the Western Diet Promote Endotoxemia and Inflammation?

A high-fat diet can cause endotoxemia, which promotes the systemic inflammation and metabolic disorders associated with obesity, according to a human study published in the May issue of Gastroenterology.

Chronic endotoxemia (the presence of endotoxins such as lipopolysaccharide in blood) occurs with obesity, yet little is known about the source or mechanisms of endoxins in obese patients. Some studies have shown that increased calorie or fat intake can cause endotoxemia, but no one has compared Western and healthy diets.

Swaroop Pendyala and colleagues investigated whether differences in diet affect the development of endotoxemia in people. They fed 8 healthy subjects a Western-style diet for 1 month (while they were hospitalized in a metabolic ward and all activity was carefully monitored), and measured blood levels of endotoxin and other markers of inflammation. After a 1-month washout period, the subjects were fed a prudent-style diet for 1 month, while the same factors were measured.

Compared with baseline measurements, the Western-style diet caused a 71% increase in plasma levels of endotoxin activity, whereas the prudent-style diet caused a 38% decrease (see figure).

Plasma levels of endoxin activity before and after the Western diet (A), the prudent diet (B), at baseline before the Western and prudent diets (C), and compared after the Western and prudent diets (D).

On the prudent-style diet, subjects also had significant decreases in serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α and a trend for reduced levels of monocyte chemotactic protein 1 and interleukin-8 (markers of inflammation); levels of these factors were unchanged on the Western-style diet.

Pendyala et al. propose that the Western-style diet contributes to endotoxemia by causing changes in gastrointestinal barrier function or the composition of the microbiota. Prebiotics or probiotics might be used to reduced endotoxemia and its concomitant complications in obese individuals.

Read the article online.
Pendyala S, Walker JM, Holt PR. A high-fat diet is associated with endotoxemia that originates from the gut. Gastroenterology 2012;142:1100–1101.e2.

About Kristine Novak, PhD, Science Editor

Dr. Kristine Novak is the science editor for Gastroenterology and Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, both published by the American Gastroenterological Association. She has worked as an editor at biomedical research journals and as a science writer for more than 12 years, covering advances in gastroenterology, hepatology, cancer, immunology, biotechnology, molecular genetics, and clinical trials. She has a PhD in cell biology and an interest in all areas of medical research.
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5 Responses to Does the Western Diet Promote Endotoxemia and Inflammation?

  1. Hi DR. I don’t have access to the paper, would you like to give a detailed breakdown of each diets’ composition and caloric value?

  2. peter holt says:

    Send me your email address please.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I was just looking for the data like this .

  4. Boris Starostin says:

    Dear Kristine Novak, It is very interisting about you wrote. I think if you used in trial fast food result were yet more bad.

  5. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you could be a great author.
    I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will
    come back at some point. I want to encourage you to continue
    your great writing, have a nice weekend!

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