High fat diet (HFD)-induced insulin resistance (IR) is partially characterized by reduced skeletal muscle mitochondrial function and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 alpha (PGC1α) expression. Our previous study showed that a high dose of the bioflavonoid quercetin exacerbated HFD-induced IR; yet, others have demonstrated that quercetin improves insulin sensitivity. The aim of this study was to investigate whether differing doses of quercetin act in a time-dependent manner to attenuate HFD-induced IR in association with improved skeletal muscle mitochondrial function and PGC1α expression.


C57BL/6J mice were fed HFD for 3 or 8 wks, with or without a low (50 ug/day; HF+50Q) or high (600 ug/day, HF+600Q) dose of quercetin. Whole body and metabolic phenotypes and insulin sensitivity were assessed. Skeletal muscle metabolomic analysis of acylcarnitines and PGC1αmRNA expression via qRT-PCR were measured.


Quercetin at 50 ug/day for 8 wk attenuated HFD-induced increases in fat mass, body weight and IR and increased PGC1α expression, whereas 600 ug/day of quercetin exacerbated fat mass accumulation without altering body weight, IR or PGC1α. PGC1α expression correlated with acylcarnitine levels similarly in HF and HF+600Q; these correlations were not present in HF+50Q. At both time points, energy expenditure increased in HF+50Q and decreased in HF+600Q, independent of PGC1α and IR.


Chronic dietary quercetin supplementation at low but not higher dose ameliorates the development of diet-induced IR while increasing PGC1α expression in muscle, suggesting that skeletal muscle may be an important target for the insulin-sensitizing effects of a low dose of quercetin.


This is the publisher pdf of Henagan TM, Lenard NR, Gettys TW, Stewart LK (2014) Dietary Quercetin Supplementation in Mice Increases Skeletal Muscle PGC1α Expression, Improves Mitochondrial Function and Attenuates Insulin Resistance in a Time-Specific Manner. PLoS ONE 9(2): e89365 and is available at: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089365.

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