Diets of High Salt and High Fat: Metabolic and Pubertal Effects in the Rat

Schmill, Margaret P.
Non-communicable diseases are estimated to account for 88% of deaths in the United States of America. The majority of these diseases are due to the growing epidemic of obesity. Obesity is completely preventable and yet our population continues to consume sugar, fat, and salt in excess. This research focused on the effects of high fat and/or salt diets on the metabolism and pubertal onset of juvenile Sprague-Dawley rats. In Experiment 1, rats postnatal day 21-45 were fed a control, high salt (HS), high fat (HF), or high fat/high salt (HF/HS) diet. Food intake, fecal output, fecal lipid output, and respiratory quotient (RQ) were measured. The total lipid output of the HF was significantly higher than control and HS. Additionally, the total lipid output of the HF/HS was significantly higher than the control. An apparent trend in RQ revealed that HS rats were metabolizing the most lipids. The activity and internal temperatures of these rats were also assessed with inconclusive results. Specific brain tissue of these rats was saved for Experiment 2. Primarily this involved establishing the real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) procedure using practice tissue. The goal of Experiment 2 was to quantify the gene expression of Kisspeptin (responsible for pubertal onset) in the brains of HF vs. HF/HS rats. Experiment 3 is underway to determine whether genetic differences are present between 2 strains of Sprague-Dawley control rats. This experiment will ascertain if the control diet used in Experiments 1 and 2 is an accurate baseline reference. This set of experiments in rats enhances our understanding of unhealthy dietary variations in humans.
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