Ascorbic acid oral treatment modifies lipolytic response and behavioural activity but not glucocorticoid metabolism in cafeteria diet-fed rats


J. A. Martinez, Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Physiology and Toxicology, University of Navarra, C/Irunlarrea s/n 31008, Pamplona, Spain. E-mail:


Aim:  To analyse the effects of vitamin C (VC), a potent dietary antioxidant, oral supplementation on body weight gain, behavioural activity, lipolytic response and glucocorticoid metabolism in the early stages of diet-induced overweight in rats.

Methods:  Food intake, locomotive activity and faecal corticosterone were assessed during the 14 day trial period. After 2 weeks, the animals were sacrificed and the body composition, biochemical markers and lipolytic response from isolated adipocytes from retroperitoneal white adipose tissue were examined.

Results:  The intake of a high-fat diet by rats induced a significant increase in body weight, adiposity and insulin resistance markers as well as a decrease in faecal corticosterone levels compared with standard diet-fed rats. Interestingly, the animals fed on the cafeteria diet showed a significant increase in the isoproterenol-induced lipolytic response in isolated adipocytes. Furthermore, this cafeteria-fed group showed a reduced locomotive behaviour than the control rats. On the other hand, oral VC supplementation in animals receiving the high-fat diet restored the cafeteria diet effect in some of the analysed variables such as final body weight and plasma insulin to control group levels. Remarkably, increases in locomotive behaviour and a significant decrease in the lipolytic response induced by isoproterenol on isolated adipocytes from animals treated with VC were observed.

Conclusion:  This work demonstrates that an oral ascorbic acid supplementation has direct effects on behavioural activity and on adipocyte lipolysis in early obesity stages in rats, which could indicate a protective short-term role of this vitamin against adiposity induced by chronic high-fat diet consumption.