Age- and duration-dependent effects of whey protein on high-fat diet-induced changes in body weight, lipid metabolism, and gut microbiota in mice
S. Boscaini; R. Cabrera-Rubio; O. Nychyk; J. Roger Speakman; J. Francis Cryan; P. David Cotter; K. N. Nilaweera
Year of publication
Bovine whey protein has been demonstrated to exert a positive effect on energy balance, lipid metabolism, and nutrient absorption. Additionally, it affects gut microbiota configuration. Thus, whey protein is considered as good dietary candidate to prevent or ameliorate metabolic diseases, such as obesity. However, the relationship that links energy balance, metabolism, and intestinal microbial population mediated by whey protein intake remains poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the beneficial effects attributed to whey protein in the context of high-fat diet (HFD) in mice at two different ages, with short or longer durations of whey protein supplementation. Here, a 5-week dietary intervention with HFD in combination with either whey protein isolate (WPI) or the control nonwhey milk protein casein (CAS) was performed using 5-week or 10-week-old C57BL/6J mice. Notably, the younger mice had no prior history of ingestion of WPI, while older mice did. 5-week-old HFD-WPI-fed mice showed a decrease in weight gain and changes in the expression of genes within the epidydimal white adipose tissue including those encoding leptin, inflammatory marker CD68, fasting-induced adipose factor FIAF and enzymes involved in fatty acids catabolism, relative to HFD-CAS-fed mice. Differences in β-diversity and higher proportions of Lactobacillus murinus, and related functions, were evident within the gut microbiota of HFD-WPI mice. However, none of these changes were observed in mice that started the HFD dietary intervention at 10-weeks-old, with an extended period of WPI supplementation. These results suggest that the effect of whey protein on mouse body weight, adipose tissue, and intestinal parameters depends on diet duration and stage of life during which the diet is provided. In some instances, WPI influences gut microbiota composition and functional potential, which might orchestrate observed metabolic and physiological modifications.