BACKGROUND: Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) are a dietary supplement that exhibit interesting properties, due to their smaller molecular size. The acute consumption of MCFAs is expected to enhance exercise performance. However, the short-term effects of MCFAs on endurance performance remains poorly understood. The aim of our study is to evaluate the octanoic acid (C8)-rich diet effect on endurance capacity, and to explore their molecular and cellular effects.
METHODS: C57BL/6J mice were fed with a chow diet (Control group) or an octanoic acid-rich diet (C8 diet) for 6 weeks. Spontaneous activity, submaximal and maximal exercise tests were carried out to characterize the exercise capacities of the mice. Beta-oxidation and mitochondrial biogenesis pathways were explored in skeletal muscle by RT-qPCR, Western Blot (Quadriceps) and histochemical staining (Gastrocnemius).
RESULTS: Mice fed with a C8-rich diet presented a higher spontaneous activity (p < 0.05) and endurance capacities (p < 0.05) than the control, but no effect on maximal effort was observed. They also presented changes in the skeletal muscle metabolic phenotype, with a higher number of the oxidative fibers, rich in mitochondria. At the molecular level, the C8-diet induced an AMPK activation (p < 0.05), associated with a significant increase in PGC1a and CS gene expression and protein levels.
CONCLUSION: Our study provided evidence that C8-enrichment as a food supplementation improves endurance capacities and activates mitochondrial biogenesis pathways leading to higher skeletal muscle oxidative capacities.