Pharmacological doses of niacin improve adipose tissue (AT) inflammation and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in rodents chronically fed a high-fat diet (HFD). However, recent mouse studies have demonstrated significant metabolic changes in different strains of mice fed a HFD. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the effect of niacin on both AT inflammation and liver steatosis in two mouse strains, C57BL6/J (B6) and B6129SF2/J (B6129), under HFD feeding. Thirty-two male B6 and 32 male B6129 mice were randomized into four groups: Chow/Vehicle (CV), Chow/Niacin (CN), HFD/Vehicle (HV), and HFD/Niacin (HN). They were fed either a chow (10% fat) or HFD (60% fat) for 20 weeks. Niacin (360 mg/kg/day) or vehicle was added to the drinking water from week 5 until the end of the study. As expected, HFD-fed mice gained more weight than chow-fed mice in both strains, with no difference in weight gain between strains. Crown-like structure (CLS) number, a hallmark of AT inflammation, was increased in HV mice of both strains compared to CV mice. In addition, HV B6 mice had higher CLS number than HV B6129 mice. In B6129 mice, niacin decreased CLS number in HN compared to HV mice, while this decrease was not observed in B6 mice. Liver weight to body weight (L/B) ratio, liver triglyceride (TG) content and NASH score was increased in HV compared to CV B6 mice. In contrast, in B6129 mice, only NASH score was increased in HV compared to CV controls. Niacin had no impact on L/B ratio, TG content, or NASH score in B6 mice. However, in B6129 mice, niacin increased all three parameters in HN compared to HV mice.

In conclusion, there are strain differential effects on AT inflammation and NAFLD induced by HFD feeding. Interestingly, liver steatosis is significantly increased in HFD-fed B6129 mice treated with niacin. This increase is potentially due to methyl deficiency, as niacin is a potent hepatic methyl consumer and 129 mice are more sensitive to methyl deficiency.


H. Fang: None. E. Graff: None. Z. Li: None. R.L. Judd: None.

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