• diet-induced obesity;
  • energy balance;
  • neuropeptides


Objective: To investigate the effect of a high-energy (HE) diet on caloric intake, body weight, and related parameters in outbred male Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats.

Research Methods and Procedures: Twenty-eight SD rats were fed either chow (C) for 19 weeks or HE diet for 14 weeks and then C for 5 weeks. Blood hormones and metabolites were assayed, and expression of uncoupling protein-1 and hypothalamic energy-balance-related genes were determined by Northern blotting and in situ hybridization, respectively.

Results: HE rats gained body weight more rapidly than C animals with a range of weight gains, but there was no evidence that weight gain was bimodally distributed. Caloric intake was transiently elevated after introduction of the HE diet. Transfer of HE rats back to C resulted in a drop in caloric intake, but a stable body weight. In terminal analysis, two of four dissected adipose tissue depots were heavier in rats that had previously been fed HE diet. Blood leptin, insulin, glucose, and nonesterified fatty acids were not different between the groups. Uncoupling protein-1 mRNA was elevated in interscapular brown adipose tissue from HE rats. There was a trend for agouti-related peptide mRNA in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus to be higher in HE rats.

Discussion: Contrary to other studies of the SD rat on HE diet, body weight and other measured parameters were normally distributed. There was no segregation into two distinct populations on the basis of susceptibility to diet-induced obesity. This characteristic may be dependent on the breeding colony from which animals were sourced.