Background: Hyperlipidemia and obesity are associated with metabolic syndrome and increased risk in developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Nutritional supplements, e.g. L-carnitine and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), exert lipid-lowering effects. Hence, the hypothesis that dietetic intervention reduces plasma lipid levels and metabolic enzymes in overweight hyperlipidemic subjects was tested.

Subjects and Methods: In a prospective placebo-controlled double-blind study in 22 moderately hyperlipidemic obese humans consuming low-fat yoghurt enriched with a combination of low-dose PUFAs, polyphenols and L-carnitine (PPC) twice a day for 12 weeks were compared to 20 matching participants ingesting low-fat yoghurt. The effects on plasma lipids and expression of enzymes involved in regulation of fatty acid oxidation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and HepG2 cells were evaluated.

Results: PPC consumption led to significantly reduced plasma free fatty acid (-29%) and triglyceride (-24%) concentrations (each p < 0.05). PPC application increased significantly peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) mRNA abundances and those of PPARα target genes (carnitine palmitoyltransferases-1, CPT1A and CPT1B, carnitine acetyltransferase and organic cation transporter 2; each p < 0.05) in PBMCs. In controls, plasma lipid levels and PBMC gene expression did not change. These findings were substantiated by the results of cell culture experiments in HepG2 cells.

Conclusion: Supplementation of PPC had marked lipid-lowering effects and PBMC gene expression profiles seemed to reflect nutrition-related metabolic changes.