Introduction of a high-energy diet acutely up-regulates hypothalamic cocaine and amphetamine-regulated transcript, Mc4R and brown adipose tissue uncoupling protein-1 gene expression in male Sprague-Dawley rats

Z A Archer, D V Rayner, Jackie Duncan, Lynn Thomson, Julian Mercer

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Obesity is an escalating problem in Western societies. Susceptibility to weight gain within an obesogenic environment is variable. It remains unclear how the range of weight gain responses are generated. It is possible that an individual's immediate and/or sustained appetite for apparently palatable foods, or metabolic adaptations to a new diet could be important. The present study therefore examined the short- to medium-term effects of a high-energy (HE) diet on bodyweight, food intake, and energy balance-related signalling systems. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed either chow or an HE diet for 12 h, 24 h, 48 h or 14 days. Blood hormones and metabolites were assayed, and expression of uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1) and hypothalamic energy-balance related genes were determined by Northern blotting or in situ hybridisation, respectively. Short-term exposure (12 h, 24 h, 48 h) to the HE diet had no effect on grams of food consumed, but caloric intake was increased. Exposure to HE diet for 14 days (medium term) established a bodyweight differential of 7.7 g, and animals exhibited a transient increase in caloric intake of 5 days duration. Terminal levels of leptin, insulin, glucose and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs) were all increased in HE-fed animals. UCP-1 mRNA was elevated in interscapular brown adipose tissue from HE-fed rats only at 12 h. Cocaine and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) and Mc4R gene expression in the hypothalamus were increased after 12 h and 24 h on an HE diet, respectively. The rats appear to passively over-consume calories as a result of consuming a similar weight of a more energy dense food. This evokes physiological responses, which adjust caloric intake over several days. Circulating NEFA and insulin concentrations, UCP-1, Mc4R and CART gene expression are increased as an immediate consequence of consuming HE diet, and may be involved in countering hypercaloric intake. Circulating leptin is increased in the HE-fed animals after 48 h, reflecting their increasing adiposity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005



  • animal feed
  • animals
  • blood glucose
  • body weight
  • carrier proteins
  • energy intake
  • energy metabolism
  • nonesterified fatty acids
  • gene expression
  • hypothalamus
  • Insulin
  • ion channels
  • leptin
  • male
  • membrane proteins
  • mitochondrial proteins
  • nerve tissue proteins
  • rats
  • Sprague-Dawley rats
  • type 4 melanocortin receptor
  • up-regulation

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