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Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences


The 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends a diet largely composed of fruit and vegetables. Consuming a diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in refined carbohydrates and saturated fat may reduce an individual’s risk for type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, low-grade chronic inflammation, and metabolic syndrome (MetS). Several recent studies have implicated the bioactive sphingolipid ceramide as an associative and causative biomarker for the development of these conditions. Considering that the intake of fruit and vegetables is frequently inadequate in young adults, we performed a pilot investigation to assess the efficacy of a free-living fruit and vegetable intervention on overall metabolic health, circulating ceramide supply, and inflammatory status in young adults. We discovered that adoption of the recommended DGA for fruit and vegetable intake for 8 weeks decreased waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, and circulating cholesterol. Lipidomics analysis revealed that nutritional intervention can lower circulating ceramides, including C24:0 ceramide, a known inhibitor of insulin signaling. Unexpectedly, we observed an increase in C16:0 ceramide, suggesting that this form of ceramide in circulation is not associated with metabolic disease in humans. We also observed an improved inflammatory status with enhanced fruit and vegetable intake that was correlated with ceramide concentrations. These data suggest that adopting the recommended DGA is associated with a reduction of many, but not all, ceramide species and may help to prevent or mitigate MetS. Future research needs to assess whether the ceramide-lowering ability of nutritional intervention is associated with reduced risk of developing metabolic disease.

Source Citation

Mathews, A. T., Famodu, O.A., Olfert, M.A., Murray, P.J., Cuff, C.F., Downes, M.T., Haughey, N.J., Colby, S.E., Chantler, P.D., Olfert, I.M., & McFadden, J. W. (2017). Efficacy of nutritional interventions to lower circulating ceramides in young adults: FRUVEDomic pilot study. Physiological Reports, Jul; 5(13). pii: e13329. doi: 10.14814/phy2.13329.


The article is supported by the WVU Libraries' Open Access Author Fund.



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