Sex Differences in the Peripubertal Response to Short‐Term High Fat Diet Intake

Journal of Neuroendocrinology
11 Jun, 2019 ,

Alejandra Freire‐Regatillo conducted a study to compare the response of male and female mice to short term exposure to a high fat diet or a low fat diet during the peripubertal period. The researchers concluded that there was no significant increase in body weight post one week of high fat diet. 

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Obesity is one of the most important health problems facing developed countries as being overweight is associated with a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, as well as other comorbidities. Although increased weight gain results from a combination of poor dietary habits and decreased energy expenditure, not all individuals have equal propensities to gain weight or to develop secondary complications of obesity.

This is partially due to genetics, including sex, but also to the time at which an individual is exposed to an obesogenic environment. Here we have compared the response of male and female mice to short term exposure to a high fat diet (HFD) or a low fat diet (LFD) during the peripubertal period (starting at 42 days of age), as this is a stage of dramatic hormonal and metabolic modifications. After one week on a HFD, there was no significant increase in body weight, although females significantly increased their energy intake.

Serum leptin levels increased in both sexes, even though no change in fat mass was detected. Glycemia and HOMA increased in males, suggesting a rapid change in glucose metabolism. Hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin mRNA levels were significantly higher in females on a HFD compared to all other groups, which may be an attempt to reduce their increased energy intake.

Hypothalamic inflammation and gliosis have been implicated in the development of secondary complications of obesity; however, no indication of activation of inflammatory processes or gliosis was found in response to one week of HFD in the hypothalamus, hippocampus or cerebellum of these young mice. These results indicate that there are both sex and age effects in the response to poor dietary intake, as peripubertal male and female mice respond differently to short term dietary changes and this response is different from that reported in adult rodents.