Monosodium glutamate dietary consumption decreases pancreatic β-cell mass in adult Wistar rats

Piyanard Boonnate, Sakda Waraasawapati, Wiphawi Hipkaeo, Supattra Pethlert, Amod Sharma, Carlo Selmi, Vitoon Prasongwattana, Ubon Cha'on

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The amount of dietary monosodium glutamate (MSG) is increasing worldwide, in parallel with the epidemics of metabolic syndrome. Parenteral administration of MSG to rodents induces obesity, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. However, the impact of dietary MSG is still being debated. We investigated the morphological and functional effects of prolonged MSG consumption on rat glucose metabolism and on pancreatic islet histology. Methods: Eighty adult male Wistar rats were randomly subdivided into 4 groups, and test rats in each group were supplemented with MSG for a different duration (1, 3, 6, or 9 months, n=20 for each group). All rats were fed ad libitum with a standard rat chow and water. Ten test rats in each group were provided MSG 2 mg/g body weight/day in drinking water and the 10 remaining rats in each group served as non-MSG treated controls. Oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) were performed and serum insulin measured at 9 months. Animals were sacrificed at 1, 3, 6, or 9 months to examine the histopathology of pancreatic islets. Results: MSG-treated rats had significantly lower pancreatic β-cell mass at 1, 6 and 9 months of study. Islet hemorrhages increased with age in all groups and fibrosis was significantly more frequent in MSG-treated rats at 1 and 3 months. Serum insulin levels and glucose tolerance in MSG-treated and untreated rats were similar at all time points we investigated. Conclusion: Daily MSG dietary consumption was associated with reduced pancreatic β-cell mass and enhanced hemorrhages and fibrosis, but did not affect glucose homeostasis. We speculate that high dietary MSG intake may exert a negative effect on the pancreas and such effect might become functionally significant in the presence or susceptibility to diabetes or NaCl; future experiments will take these crucial cofactors into account.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0131595
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 29 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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