Type 2 diabetes mellitus and muscle insulin resistance have been associated with reduced capacity of skeletal muscle mitochondria, possibly as a result of increased intake of dietary fat. Here, we examined the hypothesis that a prolonged high-fat diet consumption (HFD) increases the saturation of muscle mitochondrial membrane phospholipids causing impaired mitochondrial oxidative capacity and possibly insulin resistance.
C57BL/6J mice were fed an 8-week or 20-week low fat diet (10 kcal%; LFD) or HFD (45 kcal%). Skeletal muscle mitochondria were isolated and fatty acid (FA) composition of skeletal muscle mitochondrial phospholipids was analyzed by thin-layer chromatography followed by GC. High-resolution respirometry was used to assess oxidation of pyruvate and fatty acids by mitochondria. Insulin sensitivity was estimated by HOMA-IR.
At 8 weeks, mono-unsaturated FA (16∶1n7, 18∶1n7 and 18∶1n9) were decreased (−4.0%, p<0.001), whereas saturated FA (16∶0) were increased (+3.2%, p<0.001) in phospholipids of HFD vs. LFD mitochondria. Interestingly, 20 weeks of HFD descreased mono-unsaturated FA while n-6 poly-unsaturated FA (18∶2n6, 20∶4n6, 22∶5n6) showed a pronounced increase (+4.0%, p<0.001). Despite increased saturation of muscle mitochondrial phospholipids after the 8-week HFD, mitochondrial oxidation of both pyruvate and fatty acids were similar between LFD and HFD mice. After 20 weeks of HFD, the increase in n-6 poly-unsaturated FA was accompanied by enhanced maximal capacity of the electron transport chain (+49%, p = 0.002) and a tendency for increased ADP-stimulated respiration, but only when fuelled by a lipid-derived substrate. Insulin sensitivity in HFD mice was reduced at both 8 and 20 weeks.
Our findings do not support the concept that prolonged HF feeding leads to increased saturation of skeletal muscle mitochondrial phospholipids resulting in a decrease in mitochondrial fat oxidative capacity and (muscle) insulin resistance.