Introduction: Prevalence of obesity is increasing globally and in Saudi Arabia in particular. Obesity is associated with increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, studies to control obesity and its effect on health are important. Chitosan has been recommended as a suitable functional supplement for controlling obesity; and consequently; its associated complications. However, results were inconclusive.
Aim: To investigate the effect of chitosan supplement on food intake, weight gain, glucose homeostasis,insulin resistance, lipid profile, and markers of obesity, inflammation, and oxidative stress in Wistar rats fed normal diet ad libitum.
Animals and Methods: Two groups of three months old male Wistar rats were studied. Group A (Control, n=10), fed normal chow, and Group B (Test, n=10), fed normal chow with 1% w/w chitosan added. Food was allowed ad-libitum. At the start, then at end of 12 weeks of supplementation with chitosan, rats were weighed, and fasting blood samples were drawn for measurement of glucose, lipid profile, insulin, leptin, gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT), and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α). Atherogenic index (AI), HDL:LDL cholesterol, and homeostatic model of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were calculated.
Results: Chitosan significantly reduced means of total and LDL cholesterol, serum leptin, triglycerides, and AI, and increased means of food intake, HDL: LDL cholesterol in groups B, compared to group A (P<0.05 in all cases). However, there was no significant difference in means of weight, GGT, or TNF-α between groups.
Conclusion: Chitosan increased appetite without additional weight gain, but had no effect on markers of inflammation, and oxidative stress. However, it had beneficial effects on lipids profile, hence may be a good option to reduce risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). More work with dietary control,,measurement of excreted fat, and fecal microbiota might elucidate its action and effect further.