Open Access Open Badges Research

Improvements in vascular health by a low-fat diet, but not a high-fat diet, are mediated by changes in adipocyte biology

Krista A Varady1*, Surabhi Bhutani1, Monica C Klempel1 and Shane A Phillips2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois, Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

2 Department of Physical Therapy, University of Illinois, Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:8  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-8

Published: 20 January 2011



Low-fat (LF) and high-fat (HF) weight loss diets improve brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) in obese individuals, although results are conflicting. Moreover, the role that adipose tissue plays in mediating these diet-related effects are unknown.


This study examined how modulations in FMD by HF and LF diets relate to changes in adipocyte parameters.


Obese subjects (n = 17) were randomized to a HF diet (60% kcal as fat) or a LF diet (25% kcal as fat) for 6 weeks. Both groups were restricted by 25% of energy needs.


Body weight decreased (P < 0.05) in both groups (HF: -6.6 ± 0.5 kg, LF: -4.7 ± 0.6 kg). Fat mass and waist circumference were reduced (P < 0.05) in the LF group only (-4.4 ± 0.3 kg; -3.6 ± 0.8 cm, respectively). FMD improved (P < 0.05) in the LF group (7.4 ± 0.8% to 9.8 ± 0.8; 32% increase) and was impaired in the HF group (8.5 ± 0.6% to 6.9 ± 0.7; 19% reduction). Increases in plasma adiponectin (P < 0.05, 16 ± 5%), and decreases in resistin (P < 0.05, -26 ± 11%), were shown by the LF diet only. Greater decreases in leptin were observed with LF (-48 ± 9%) versus HF (-28 ± 12%) (P < 0.05, diet × time). Increased FMD by the LF diet was associated with increased adiponectin, and decreased fat mass, waist circumference, leptin, and resistin.


Beneficial modulations in vascular health by LF diets may be mediated by improvements in adipocyte parameters.