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Feeding butter with elevated content of trans-10, cis-12 conjugated linoleic acid to lean rats does not impair glucose tolerance or muscle insulin response

Amanda Stefanson1, Loren E Hopkins2, Ousama AlZahal2, Ian R Ritchie1, Tara MacDonald1, David C Wright1, Brian W McBride2 and David J Dyck1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G2W1, Canada

2 Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G2W1, Canada

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2014, 13:101  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-101

Published: 23 June 2014



Numerous studies have investigated the effects of isolated CLA supplementation on glucose homeostasis in humans and rodents. However, both the amount and relative abundance of CLA isomers in supplemental form are not representative of what is consumed from natural sources. No study to date has examined the effects of altered CLA isomer content within a natural food source. Our goal was to increase the content of the insulin desensitizing CLAt10,c12 isomer relative to the CLAc9,t11 isomer in cow’s milk by inducing subacute rumenal acidosis (SARA), and subsequently investigate the effects of this milk fat on parameters related to glucose and insulin tolerance in rats.


We fed female rats (~2.5 to 3 months of age) CLA t10,c12 –enriched (SARA) butter or non-SARA butter based diets for 4 weeks in either low (10% of kcal from fat; 0.18% total CLA by weight) or high (60% of kcal from fat; 0.55% total CLA by weight) amounts. In an effort to extend these findings, we then fed rats high (60% kcal) amounts of SARA or non-SARA butter for a longer duration (8 weeks) and assessed changes in whole body glucose, insulin and pyruvate tolerance in comparison to low fat and 60% lard conditions.


There was a main effect for increased fasting blood glucose and insulin in SARA vs. non-SARA butter groups after 4 weeks of feeding (p < 0.05). However, blood glucose and insulin concentration, and maximal insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in skeletal muscle were similar in all groups. Following 8 weeks of feeding, insulin tolerance was impaired by the SARA butter, but not glucose or pyruvate tolerance. The non-SARA butter did not impair tolerance to glucose, insulin or pyruvate.


This study suggests that increasing the consumption of a naturally enriched CLAt10,c12 source, at least in rats, has minimal impact on whole body glucose tolerance or muscle specific insulin response.

Conjugated linoleic acid; Butter; Rats; Glucose tolerance; Insulin tolerance; Insulin-stimulated glucose uptake