Tocotrienols have been reported to improve lipid profiles, reduce atherosclerotic lesions, decrease blood glucose and glycated haemoglobin concentrations, normalise blood pressure in vivo and inhibit adipogenesis in vitro, yet their role in the metabolic syndrome has not been investigated. In this study, we investigated the effects of palm tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) on high carbohydrate, high fat diet-induced metabolic, cardiovascular and liver dysfunction in rats. Rats fed a high carbohydrate, high fat diet for 16 weeks developed abdominal obesity, hypertension, impaired glucose and insulin tolerance with increased ventricular stiffness, lower systolic function and reduced liver function. TRF treatment improved ventricular function, attenuated cardiac stiffness and hypertension, and improved glucose and insulin tolerance, with reduced left ventricular collagen deposition and inflammatory cell infiltration. TRF improved liver structure and function with reduced plasma liver enzymes, inflammatory cell infiltration, fat vacuoles and balloon hepatocytes. TRF reduced plasma free fatty acid and triglyceride concentrations but only omental fat deposition was decreased in the abdomen. These results suggest that tocotrienols protect the heart and liver, and improve plasma glucose and lipid profiles with minimal changes in abdominal obesity in this model of human metabolic syndrome.
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