Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) are a directly and readily absorbed source of energy. Exposure early-in-life to increased MCFA levels might affect development and impact (lipid) metabolism later in life. We tested whether an increased MCFA intake early-in-life positively affects adult body composition and metabolic status when challenged by a western-style diet (WSD). Male offspring of C57Bl/6j mice and Wistar rats were fed a control diet (CTRL; 10 w% fat, 14% MCFA) or a medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) diet with 20% MCFA until postnatal (PN) day 42, whereupon animals were fed a WSD (10 w% fat) until PN day 98. Body composition was monitored by Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA). In rats, glucose homeostasis was assessed by glucose tolerance test (GTT) and insulin tolerance test (ITT); in mice, the HOmeostasis Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR) was calculated. At autopsy on PN day 98, plasma lipid profiles, glucose, insulin, and adipokines were measured; organs and fat pads were collected and the adipocyte size distribution was analysed. Milk analysis in mice showed that the maternal MCT diet was not translated into milk, and pups were thus only exposed to high MCT levels from early weaning onward: PN day 16 until 42. Mice exposed to MCT showed 28% less fat accumulation vs. CTRL during WSD. The average adipocyte cell size, fasting plasma triglycerides (TG), and leptin levels were reduced in MCT mice. In rats, no effects were found on the adult body composition, but the adipocyte cell size distribution shifted towards smaller adipocytes. Particularly mice showed positive effects on glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity. Increased MCFA intake early-in-life protected against the detrimental effects of an obesogenic diet in adulthood.
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