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Animal Models

Kefir improves fatty liver syndrome by inhibiting the lipogenesis pathway in leptin-deficient ob/ob knockout mice



Fatty liver disease is commonly associated with obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes. Severe fatty liver is sometimes accompanied by steatohepatitis and may lead to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma. At present, there is no effective treatment for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); thus, recent investigations have focused on developing effective therapeutics to treat this condition. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of kefir on the hepatic lipid metabolism of ob/ob mice, which are commonly used to model fatty liver disease.


In this study, we used leptin receptor-deficient ob/ob mice as an animal disease model of NAFLD. Six-week-old ob/ob mice were orally administered the dairy product kefir (140 mg kg–1 of body weight (BW) per day) for 4 weeks. The data demonstrated that kefir improved fatty liver syndrome on BW, energy expenditure and basal metabolic rate by inhibiting serum glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase (GOT) and glutamate pyruvate transaminase (GPT) activities (P<0.05) and by decreasing the triglyceride (TG) and total cholesterol (TC) contents of the liver (P<0.05). Oral kefir administration also significantly reduced the macrovesicular fat quantity in liver tissue. In addition, kefir markedly decreased the expression of the genes sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP1), fatty acid synthase (FAS) and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) (P<0.05) but not the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) or hepatic carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1α (CPT1α) in the livers of ob/ob mice.


On the basis of these results, we conclude that kefir improves NAFLD on BW, energy expenditure and basal metabolic rate by inhibiting the lipogenesis pathway and that kefir may have the potential for clinical application to the prevention or treatment of NAFLD.

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We thank the Taiwan Mouse Clinic (NSC 102-2325-B-001-042), which is funded by the National Research Program for Biopharmaceuticals (NRPB) at the National Science Council (NSC) of Taiwan, for their technical support in assessing the body composition and the TSE experiments. This research was supported in part by grants NSC-101-2313-B-212-001-MY2 and NSC-100-2313-B-005-028-MY3 from the National Science Council and the Ministry of Education, Taiwan, Republic of China, under the Aiming for the Top University (ATU) plan.

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Correspondence to C-M Chen.

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Chen, HL., Tung, YT., Tsai, CL. et al. Kefir improves fatty liver syndrome by inhibiting the lipogenesis pathway in leptin-deficient ob/ob knockout mice. Int J Obes 38, 1172–1179 (2014).

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