Trehalose itself plays a critical role on lipid metabolism: Trehalose increases jejunum cytoplasmic lipid droplets which negatively correlated with mesenteric adipocyte size in both HFD-fed trehalase KO and WT mice

Nutr. Metab. 2020;17:22.

Chikako Arai, Aki Suyama, Shigeyuki Arai, Norie Arai, Chiyo Yoshizane, Satomi Koya-Miyata, Akiko Mizote, Shin Endo, Toshio Ariyasu, Hitoshi Mitsuzumi & Shimpei Ushio



Trehalose is a functional disaccharide that has anti-metabolic activities such as suppression of adipocyte hypertrophy in mice and alleviation of impaired glucose tolerance in humans. Trehalase hydrolyzes trehalose in the small intestine into two glucose molecules. In this study, we investigated whether trehalose can suppress adipocyte hypertrophy in mice in the presence or absence of trehalase.


Trehalase knockout (KO) mice and wild-type (WT) mice were fed a high fat diet (HFD) and administered water with 0.3% (w/v) or without trehalose for 8 weeks. At the end of the experimental period, mesenteric adipose tissues and the small intestine were collected and the adipocyte size and proportion of cytoplasmic lipid droplets (CLDs, %) in jejunum epithelium were measured by image analysis.


Trehalose treatment was associated with suppressed adipocyte hypertrophy in both trehalase KO and WT mice. The rate of CLDs in the jejunal epithelium was increased in both trehalase KO and WT mice given water containing trehalose relative to untreated control mice. There was a negative correlation between jejunal epithelial lipid droplet volume and mesenteric adipocyte size. Chylomicron-TG tended to be decreased in both trehalose-treated trehalase KO and WT mice. Addition of trehalose to differentiated Caco-2 cells in vitro increased intracytoplasmic lipid droplets and decreased secretion of the chylomicron marker ApoB-48. Moreover, the jejunal epithelium containing lipid droplets falled into the intestinal lumen, and triglyceride (TG) levels in feces tended to be higher in the KO/HFD/Tre group than in the KO/HFD/Water group. Since then, the accumulation of CLDs has been reported to suppress CM secretion, and along with our results, the effect of trehalose to increase jejunum CLDs may induce suppression of adipocyte hypertrophy.


The suppression of adipocyte hypertrophy in the presence and absence of trehalase indicates that trehalose mediates effects prior to being hydrolyzed into glucose. In both trehalase KO and WT mice, trehalose treatment increased the rate of CLDs in jejunal epithelium, reduced chylomicron migration from the intestinal epithelium to the periphery, and suppressed adipocyte hypertrophy. Thus, trehalose ingestion could prevent metabolic syndrome by trapping fat droplets in the intestinal epithelium and suppressing rapid increases in chylomicrons.

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