Energy dense, high fat, high sugar, foods and beverages in our diet are a major contributor to the escalating global obesity problem. Here, we examine the physiological and neuroendocrine effects of feeding rats a solid high-energy (HE) diet with or without a liquid supplement (Ensure) and the consequence of subsequently transferring animals back to chow (C). Outbred Sprague-Dawley rats were fed C until 49-56 days of age, and then transferred a HE diet for 3 weeks before allocation to one of two weight-matched groups. Over the next 10 weeks, one group remained on HE diet, whereas the other had access to the liquid diet, chocolate Ensure (EN), in addition to HE diet (HE + EN). Half the rats from each group were then killed, and the remainder were returned to C for 3 weeks. Supplementation of the HE diet with EN accelerated weight gain and increased daily energy intake, adipose tissue mass, and circulating leptin levels. Transferring animals back to C caused a decrease in bodyweight in the HE + EN group, whereas HE animals were weight stable. Both groups also exhibited voluntary hypophagia, although the magnitude and duration of this response was greater in HE + EN animals. The only effect of Ensure on the hypothalamic genes studied was on tyrosine kinase B expression in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH), which was increased in rats given the supplement. Withdrawal of the obesogenic diets decreased gene expression for cocaine-and-amphetamine regulated transcript (CART) and dynorphin (DYN) in the arcuate nucleus (ARC), and DYN and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the VMH, whereas neuropeptide Y (NPY) gene expression in the ARC was increased. These changes were independent of previous dietary history. EN supplementation generates distinct physiological responses, yet has a minimal effect on hypothalamic neuropeptide or receptor gene expression, possibly due to the development of leptin resistance. Withdrawal of obesogenic diets induces changes in the gene expression consistent with NPY, CART and BDNF attempting to oppose weight gain on either HE or HE + EN.
- diet-induced obesity
- melanin-concentrating hormone
- early-onset obesity
- resistnat rats