Plasma fatty acyl-carnitines during 8 weeks of overfeeding: relation to diet energy expenditure and body composition: the PROOF study

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OBJECTIVE: Overfeeding is a strategy for evaluating the effects of excess energy intake. In this secondary analysis we tested the possibility that different levels of dietary protein might differentially modify the response of fatty acyl-carnitines to overfeeding. METHODS: Twenty-three healthy adult men and women were overfed by 40% for 8 weeks while in-patients with diets containing 5% (LPD), 15% (NPD) or 25% (HPD) protein. Plasma fatty acyl-carnitines were measured by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) at baseline and after 8 weeks of overfeeding. Measurements included: body composition by DXA, energy expenditure by ventilated hood and doubly-labeled water, fat cell size from subcutaneous fat biopsies, and fat distribution by CT scan. RESULTS: Analysis was done on 5 groups of fatty acyl-carnitines identified by principal components analysis and 6 individual short-chain fatty acyl carnitines. Higher protein intake was associated with significantly lower 8 week levels of medium chain fatty acids and C2, C4-OH and C 6:1, but higher values of C3 and C5:1 acyl-carnitines derived from essential amino acids. In contrast energy and fat intake were only weakly related to changes in fatty acyl-carnitines. A decease or smaller rise in 8 week medium chain acyl-carnitines was associated with an increase in sleeping energy expenditure (P = 0.0004), and fat free mass (P < 0.0001) and a decrease in free fatty acid concentrations (FFA) (P = 0.0067). In contrast changes in short-chain fatty acyl-carnitines were related to changes in resting energy expenditure (P = 0.0026), and fat free mass (P = 0.0007), and C4-OH was positively related to FFA (P = 0006). CONCLUSION: Protein intake was the major factor influencing changes in fatty acyl carnitines during overfeeding with higher values of most acyl-fatty acids on the low protein diet. The association of dietary protein and fat intake may explain the changes in energy expenditure and metabolic variables resulting in the observed patterns of fatty acyl carnitines.

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Metabolism: clinical and experimental

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