Dietary cocoa reduces metabolic endotoxemia and adipose tissue inflammation in high-fat fed mice

Yeyi Gu, Shan Yu, Jong Yung Park, Kevin Harvatine, Joshua D. Lambert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


In diet-induced obesity, adipose tissue (AT) is in a chronic state of inflammation predisposing the development of metabolic syndrome. Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) is a polyphenol-rich food with putative anti-inflammatory activities. Here, we examined the impact and underlying mechanisms of action of cocoa on AT inflammation in high fat-fed mice. In the present study, male C57BL/6 J mice were fed a high fat diet (HF), a HF diet with 8% (w/w) unsweetened cocoa powder (HFC), or a low-fat diet (LF) for 18 weeks. Cocoa supplementation decreased AT mRNA levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, inducible nitric oxide synthase, and EGF-like module-containing mucin-like hormone receptor-like 1 by 40-60% compared to HF group, and this was accompanied by decreased nuclear protein levels of nuclear factor-κB. Cocoa treatment reduced the levels of arachidonic acid in the AT by 33% compared to HF controls. Moreover, cocoa treatment also reduced protein levels of the eicosanoid-generating enzymes, adipose-specific phospholipase A2 and cycloxygenase-2 by 53% and 55%, respectively, compared to HF-fed mice. Finally, cocoa treatment ameliorated metabolic endotoxemia (40% reduction in plasma endotoxin) and improved gut barrier function (as measured by increased plasma levels of glucagon-like peptide-2). In conclusion, the present study has shown for the first time that long-term cocoa supplementation can reduce AT inflammation in part by modulating eicosanoid metabolism and metabolic endotoxemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-445
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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