Skip to main content Accessibility help

Impact of dietary fatty acids on metabolic activity and host intestinal microbiota composition in C57BL/6J mice

  • Elaine Patterson (a1) (a2) (a3), Robert M. O' Doherty (a4), Eileen F. Murphy (a1) (a5), Rebecca Wall (a1) (a2), Orla O' Sullivan (a1) (a2), Kanishka Nilaweera (a2), Gerald F. Fitzgerald (a1) (a3), Paul D. Cotter (a1) (a2), R. Paul Ross (a1) (a2) and Catherine Stanton (a1) (a2)...


Different dietary fat and energy subtypes have an impact on both the metabolic health and the intestinal microbiota population of the host. The present study assessed the impact of dietary fat quality, with a focus on dietary fatty acid compositions of varying saturation, on the metabolic health status and the intestinal microbiota composition of the host. C57BL/6J mice (n 9–10 mice per group) were fed high-fat (HF) diets containing either (1) palm oil, (2) olive oil, (3) safflower oil or (4) flaxseed/fish oil for 16 weeks and compared with mice fed low-fat (LF) diets supplemented with either high maize starch or high sucrose. Tissue fatty acid compositions were assessed by GLC, and the impact of the diet on host intestinal microbiota populations was investigated using high-throughput 16S rRNA sequencing. Compositional sequencing analysis revealed that dietary palm oil supplementation resulted in significantly lower populations of Bacteroidetes at the phylum level compared with dietary olive oil supplementation (P< 0·05). Dietary supplementation with olive oil was associated with an increase in the population of the family Bacteroidaceae compared with dietary supplementation of palm oil, flaxseed/fish oil and high sucrose (P< 0·05). Ingestion of the HF-flaxseed/fish oil diet for 16 weeks led to significantly increased tissue concentrations of EPA, docosapentaenoic acid and DHA compared with ingestion of all the other diets (P< 0·05); furthermore, the diet significantly increased the intestinal population of Bifidobacterium at the genus level compared with the LF-high-maize starch diet (P< 0·05). These data indicate that both the quantity and quality of fat have an impact on host physiology with further downstream alterations to the intestinal microbiota population, with a HF diet supplemented with flaxseed/fish oil positively shaping the host microbial ecosystem.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Impact of dietary fatty acids on metabolic activity and host intestinal microbiota composition in C57BL/6J mice
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Impact of dietary fatty acids on metabolic activity and host intestinal microbiota composition in C57BL/6J mice
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Impact of dietary fatty acids on metabolic activity and host intestinal microbiota composition in C57BL/6J mice
      Available formats


Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Professor C. Stanton, email; Professor R. M. O' Doherty, email


Hide All
1 Conterno, L, Fava, F, Viola, R, et al. (2011) Obesity and the gut microbiota: does up-regulating colonic fermentation protect against obesity and metabolic disease? Genes Nutr 6, 241260.
2 Turnbaugh, PJ, Backhed, F, Fulton, L, et al. (2008) Diet-induced obesity is linked to marked but reversible alterations in the mouse distal gut microbiome. Cell Host Microbe 3, 213223.
3 Hildebrandt, MA, Hoffmann, C, Sherrill-Mix, SA, et al. (2009) High-fat diet determines the composition of the murine gut microbiome independently of obesity. Gastroenterology 137, 17161724, e1711–e1712.
4 Turnbaugh, PJ, Ridaura, VK, Faith, JJ, et al. (2009) The effect of diet on the human gut microbiome: a metagenomic analysis in humanized gnotobiotic mice. Sci Transl Med 1, 6ra14.
5 Walker, AW, Ince, J, Duncan, SH, et al. (2011) Dominant and diet-responsive groups of bacteria within the human colonic microbiota. Isme J 5, 220230.
6 Ley, RE, Turnbaugh, PJ, Klein, S, et al. (2006) Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity. Nature 444, 10221023.
7 Qin, J, Li, R, Raes, J, et al. (2010) A human gut microbial gene catalogue established by metagenomic sequencing. Nature 464, 5965.
8 Backhed, F, Ding, H, Wang, T, et al. (2004) The gut microbiota as an environmental factor that regulates fat storage. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 101, 1571815723.
9 Guinane, CM & Cotter, PD (2013) Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ. Therap Adv Gastroenterol 6, 295308.
10 Murphy, EF, Cotter, PD, Healy, S, et al. (2010) Composition and energy harvesting capacity of the gut microbiota: relationship to diet, obesity and time in mouse models. Gut 59, 16351642.
11 Turnbaugh, PJ, Ley, RE, Mahowald, MA, et al. (2006) An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature 444, 10271031.
12 Schwiertz, A, Taras, D, Schafer, K, et al. (2010) Microbiota and SCFA in lean and overweight healthy subjects. Obesity 18, 190195.
13 Buettner, R, Parhofer, KG, Woenckhaus, M, et al. (2006) Defining high-fat-diet rat models: metabolic and molecular effects of different fat types. J Mol Endocrinol 36, 485501.
14 Liao, FH, Liou, TH, Shieh, MJ, et al. (2010) Effects of different ratios of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids on regulating body fat deposition in hamsters. Nutrition 26, 811817.
15 de Wit, NJ, Derrien, M, Bosch-Vermeulen, H, et al. (2012) Saturated fat stimulates obesity and hepatic steatosis and affects gut microbiota composition by an enhanced overflow of dietary fat to the distal intestine. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 303, G589G599.
16 Mujico, JR, Baccan, GC, Gheorghe, A, et al. (2013) Changes in gut microbiota due to supplemented fatty acids in diet-induced obese mice. Br J Nutr 110, 711720.
17 Devkota, S, Wang, Y, Musch, MW, et al. (2012) Dietary-fat-induced taurocholic acid promotes pathobiont expansion and colitis in Il10− / − mice. Nature 487, 104108.
18 Huang, EY, Leone, VA, Devkota, S, et al. (2013) Composition of dietary fat source shapes gut microbiota architecture and alters host inflammatory mediators in mouse adipose tissue. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr 37, 746754.
19 Folch, J, Lees, M & Sloane-Stanley, GH (1957) A simple method for the isolation and purification of total lipides from animal tissues. J Biol Chem 226, 497509.
20 Park, PW & Goins, RE (1994) In-situ preparation of fatty-acid methyl-esters for analysis of fatty-acid composition in foods. J Food Sci 59, 12621266.
21 Caporaso, JG, Kuczynski, J, Stombaugh, J, et al. (2010) QIIME allows analysis of high-throughput community sequencing data. Nat Methods 7, 335336.
22 Altschul, SF, Madden, TL, Schaffer, AA, et al. (1997) Gapped BLAST and PSI-BLAST: a new generation of protein database search programs. Nucleic Acids Res 25, 33893402.
23 Urich, T, Lanzen, A, Qi, J, et al. (2008) Simultaneous assessment of soil microbial community structure and function through analysis of the meta-transcriptome. PLOS ONE 3, e2527.
24 Huson, DH, Auch, AF, Qi, J, et al. (2007) MEGAN analysis of metagenomic data. Genome Res 17, 377386.
25 Martin-Pelaez, S, Covas, MI, Fito, M, et al. (2013) Health effects of olive oil polyphenols: recent advances and possibilities for the use of health claims. Mol Nutr Food Res 57, 760771.
26 Yang, ZH, Miyahara, H, Takeo, J, et al. (2012) Diet high in fat and sucrose induces rapid onset of obesity-related metabolic syndrome partly through rapid response of genes involved in lipogenesis, insulin signalling and inflammation in mice. Diabetol Metab Syndr 4, 32.
27 Surwit, RS, Feinglos, MN, Rodin, J, et al. (1995) Differential effects of fat and sucrose on the development of obesity and diabetes in C57BL/6J and A/J mice. Metabolism 44, 645651.
28 Wang, D, Wei, Y & Pagliassotti, MJ (2006) Saturated fatty acids promote endoplasmic reticulum stress and liver injury in rats with hepatic steatosis. Endocrinology 147, 943951.
29 van den Berg, SA, Guigas, B, Bijland, S, et al. (2010) High levels of dietary stearate promote adiposity and deteriorate hepatic insulin sensitivity. Nutr Metab (Lond) 7, 24.
30 Tetri, LH, Basaranoglu, M, Brunt, EM, et al. (2008) Severe NAFLD with hepatic necroinflammatory changes in mice fed trans fats and a high-fructose corn syrup equivalent. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 295, G987G995.
31 Parker, HM, Johnson, NA, Burdon, CA, et al. (2012) Omega-3 supplementation and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Hepatol 56, 944951.
32 Galli, A, Crabb, DW, Ceni, E, et al. (2002) Antidiabetic thiazolidinediones inhibit collagen synthesis and hepatic stellate cell activation in vivo and in vitro . Gastroenterology 122, 19241940.
33 Marra, F, DeFranco, R, Robino, G, et al. (2005) Thiazolidinedione treatment inhibits bile duct proliferation and fibrosis in a rat model of chronic cholestasis. World J Gastroenterol 11, 49314938.
34 Marra, F, Efsen, E, Romanelli, RG, et al. (2000) Ligands of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma modulate profibrogenic and proinflammatory actions in hepatic stellate cells. Gastroenterology 119, 466478.
35 Mori, TA & Beilin, LJ (2004) Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation. Curr Atheroscler Rep 6, 461467.
36 Calder, PC (2001) Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation and immunity. World Rev Nutr Diet 88, 109116.
37 Browning, LM (2003) n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation and obesity-related disease. Proc Nutr Soc 62, 447453.
38 Calder, PC (2009) Polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory processes: new twists in an old tale. Biochimie 91, 791795.
39 Hashimoto, M, Hossain, S, Shimada, T, et al. (2002) Docosahexaenoic acid provides protection from impairment of learning ability in Alzheimer's disease model rats. J Neurochem 81, 10841091.
40 Innis, SM (2007) Dietary (n-3) fatty acids and brain development. J Nutr 137, 855859.
41 Lim, GP, Calon, F, Morihara, T, et al. (2005) A diet enriched with the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid reduces amyloid burden in an aged Alzheimer mouse model. J Neurosci 25, 30323040.
42 Henriksen, C, Haugholt, K, Lindgren, M, et al. (2008) Improved cognitive development among preterm infants attributable to early supplementation of human milk with docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid. Pediatrics 121, 11371145.
43 Yurko-Mauro, K, McCarthy, D, Rom, D, et al. (2010) Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline. Alzheimers Dement 6, 456464.
44 Turnbaugh, PJ, Hamady, M, Yatsunenko, T, et al. (2009) A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins. Nature 457, 480484.
45 Jumpertz, R, Le, DS, Turnbaugh, PJ, et al. (2011) Energy-balance studies reveal associations between gut microbes, caloric load, and nutrient absorption in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 94, 5865.
46 D'Argenio, G, Cosenza, V, Delle Cave, M, et al. (1996) Butyrate enemas in experimental colitis and protection against large bowel cancer in a rat model. Gastroenterology 110, 17271734.
47 Emenaker, NJ, Calaf, GM, Cox, D, et al. (2001) Short-chain fatty acids inhibit invasive human colon cancer by modulating uPA, TIMP-1, TIMP-2, mutant p53, Bcl-2, Bax, p21 and PCNA protein expression in an in vitro cell culture model. J Nutr 131, 3041S3046S.
48 Galvez, J, Rodriguez-Cabezas, ME & Zarzuelo, A (2005) Effects of dietary fiber on inflammatory bowel disease. Mol Nutr Food Res 49, 601608.
49 Topping, DL & Clifton, PM (2001) Short-chain fatty acids and human colonic function: roles of resistant starch and nonstarch polysaccharides. Physiol Rev 81, 10311064.
50 Xu, J & Gordon, JI (2003) Honor thy symbionts. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 100, 1045210459.
51 Ravussin, Y, Koren, O, Spor, A, et al. (2012) Responses of gut microbiota to diet composition and weight loss in lean and obese mice. Obesity 20, 738747.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Patterson Supplementary Material
Figure S1

 Unknown (1.8 MB)
1.8 MB
Supplementary materials

Patterson Supplementary Material
Figure S2

 Unknown (1.0 MB)
1.0 MB
Supplementary materials

Patterson Supplementary Material
Figure S3

 Unknown (1.0 MB)
1.0 MB
Supplementary materials

Patterson Supplementary Material
Figure S4

 Unknown (942 KB)
942 KB
Supplementary materials

Patterson Supplementary Material
Figure S5

 Unknown (962 KB)
962 KB
Supplementary materials

Patterson Supplementary Material
Figure S6

 Unknown (1.1 MB)
1.1 MB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed