High fat diets result in a severe overreaction of the immune system to sepsis, discloses an experimental study done on mice.
The study has shown that a diet high in saturated fat, sugars and cholesterol greatly exaggerates the inflammatory response to sepsis.
"Mortality due to sepsis in morbidly obese subjects is estimated to be 7 times more prevalent compared to mortality in lean individuals. Morbidity in obese patients is also more severe," said Chantal Rivera of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport.
"Results from our recent studies suggest that this adverse outcome may be caused by consuming a high-fat diet, which predisposes the immune system to react more strongly to infection," he said.
Rivera lead a team of researchers to carry out the surgical induction of sepsis in mice that had been fed normal chow or western diet for 3 weeks.
Mice on the western diet, which was enriched in saturated fat, showed exacerbated inflammation that was found to be mediated by signalling via the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4) pathway.
"These results suggest that targeting the TLR signaling pathway as a therapeutic approach to the medical management of sepsis may be especially beneficial in obese patients," said Rivera.
The findings were published in the journal BMC Physiology.