Article Text

other Versions

PDF

Review
Influence of dietary macronutrients on liver fat accumulation and metabolism
  1. Siôn A Parry,
  2. Leanne Hodson
  1. Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Leanne Hodson, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, Churchill Hospital, Old Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7LJ, UK; leanne.hodson{at}ocdem.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

The liver is a principal metabolic organ within the human body and has a major role in regulating carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. With increasing rates of obesity, the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is growing. It remains unclear why NAFLD, which is now defined as the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome, develops but lifestyle factors such as diet (ie, total calorie and specific nutrient intakes), appear to play a key role. Here we review the available observational and intervention studies that have investigated the influence of dietary macronutrients on liver fat content. Findings from observational studies are conflicting with some reporting that relative to healthy controls, patients with NAFLD consume diets higher in total fat/saturated fatty acids, whilst others find they consume diets higher in carbohydrates/sugars. From the limited number of intervention studies that have been undertaken, a consistent finding is a hypercaloric diet, regardless of whether the excess calories have been provided either as fat, sugar, or both, increases liver fat content. In contrast, a hypocaloric diet decreases liver fat content. Findings from both hyper- and hypo-caloric feeding studies provide some suggestion that macronutrient composition may also play a role in regulating liver fat content and this is supported by data from isocaloric feeding studies; fatty acid composition and/or carbohydrate content/type appear to influence whether there is accrual of liver fat or not. The mechanisms by which specific macronutrients, when consumed as part of an isocaloric diet, cause a change in liver fat remain to be fully elucidated.

  • diet
  • carbohydrate
  • protein
  • fat
  • human
  • liver
  • NAFLD

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Footnotes

  • Contributors SAP and LH contributed equally to the preparation and writing of this manuscript. LH is a BHF Senior Research Fellow in Basic Science.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.