British Journal of Nutrition

Molecular Nutrition

Chronic dietary supplementation of proanthocyanidins corrects the mitochondrial dysfunction of brown adipose tissue caused by diet-induced obesity in Wistar rats

David Pajueloa1, Helena Quesadaa1, Sabina Díaza1, Anabel Fernández-Iglesiasa1, Anna Arola-Arnala1, Cinta Bladéa1, Josepa Salvadóa1 and Lluís Arolaa1 c1

a1 Nutrigenomics Group, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Marcel lí Domingo, s/n. Campus Sescelades, 43007 Tarragona, Spain


The present study aims to determine the effects of grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) on brown adipose tissue (BAT) mitochondrial function in a state of obesity induced by diet. Wistar male rats were fed with a cafeteria diet (Cd) for 4 months; during the last 21 d, two groups were treated with doses of 25 and 50 mg GSPE/kg body weight. In the BAT, enzymatic activities of citrate synthase, cytochrome c oxidase (COX) and ATPase were determined and gene expression was analysed by real-time PCR. The mitochondrial function of BAT was determined in fresh mitochondria by high-resolution respirometry using both pyruvate and carnitine–palmitoyl-CoA as substrates. The results show that the Cd causes an important decrease in the gene expression of sirtuin 1, nuclear respiratory factor 1, isocitrate dehydrogenase 3γ and COX5α and, what is more telling, decreases the levels of mitochondrial respiration both with pyruvate and canitine–palmitoyl-CoA. Most of these parameters, which are indicative of mitochondrial dysfunction due to diet-induced obesity, are improved by chronic supplementation of GSPE. The beneficial effects caused by the administration of GSPE are exhibited as a protection against weight gain, in spite of the Cd the rats were fed. These data indicate that chronic consumption of a moderate dose of GSPE can correct an energy imbalance in a situation of diet-induced obesity, thereby improving the mitochondrial function and thermogenic capacity of the BAT.

(Received February 16 2011)

(Revised April 12 2011)

(Accepted April 14 2011)

(Online publication June 28 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Professor L. Arola, fax +34 977558232, email

Abbreviations: BAT, brown adipose tissue; Cd, cafeteria diet; COX, cytochrome c oxidase; GSPE, grape seed proanthocyanidin extract; IDH3γ, isocitrate dehydrogenase-3γ; Nrf 1, nuclear respiratory factor 1; PGC1α, PPAR-γ co-activator; Sirt1, sirtuin 1; UCP1, uncoupling protein 1