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Metabolic and Blood Pressure Effects of Walnut Supplementation in a Mouse Model of the Metabolic Syndrome

Christchurch Heart Institute, University of Otago—Christchurch, P.O. Box 4345, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
Cardiovascular Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 1E Kent Ridge Road, Singapore 119228, Singapore
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2017, 9(7), 722;
Received: 15 June 2017 / Revised: 28 June 2017 / Accepted: 4 July 2017 / Published: 7 July 2017
There is extensive evidence that walnut consumption is protective against cardiovascular disease and diabetes in the healthy population, but the beneficial effects of walnut consumption in individuals with the metabolic syndrome (MetS) remain uncertain. We compared a range of cardio-metabolic traits and related tissue gene expression associated with 21 weeks of dietary walnut supplementation in a mouse model of MetS (MetS-Tg) and wild-type (WT) mice (n = 10 per genotype per diet, equal males and females). Compared to standard diet, walnuts did not significantly alter food consumption or body weight trajectory of either MetS-Tg or WT mice. In MetS-Tg mice, walnuts were associated with reductions in oral glucose area under the curve (gAUC, standard diet 1455 ± 54, walnut 1146 ± 91, p = 0.006) and mean arterial blood pressure (MAP, standard diet 100.6 ± 1.9, walnut 73.2 ± 1.8 mmHg, p < 0.001), with neutral effects on gAUC and MAP in WT mice. However, in MetS-Tg mice, walnuts were also associated with trends for higher plasma cholesterol (standard diet 4.73 ± 0.18, walnut 7.03 ± 1.99 mmol/L, p = 0.140) and triglyceride levels (standard diet 2.4 ± 0.5, walnut 5.4 ± 1.6 mmol/L, p = 0.061), despite lowering cholesterol and having no effect on triglycerides in WT mice. Moreover, in both MetS-Tg and WT mice, walnuts were associated with significantly increased liver expression of genes associated with metabolism (Fabp1, Insr), cell stress (Atf6, Ddit3, Eif2ak3), fibrosis (Hgf, Sp1, Timp1) and inflammation (Tnf, Ptpn22, Pparg). In conclusion, dietary walnuts were associated with modest favourable effects in WT mice, but a combination of beneficial and adverse effects in MetS-Tg mice, and up-regulation of hepatic pro-fibrotic and pro-inflammatory genes in both mouse strains. View Full-Text
Keywords: metabolic syndrome; walnuts; glucose tolerance; cholesterol; gene expression metabolic syndrome; walnuts; glucose tolerance; cholesterol; gene expression
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Scott, N.J.A.; Ellmers, L.J.; Pilbrow, A.P.; Thomsen, L.; Richards, A.M.; Frampton, C.M.; Cameron, V.A. Metabolic and Blood Pressure Effects of Walnut Supplementation in a Mouse Model of the Metabolic Syndrome. Nutrients 2017, 9, 722.

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