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Physiol Behav. 2011 Oct 24;104(5):893-9. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.05.029. Epub 2011 May 31.

Leanness of Lou/C rats does not require higher thermogenic capacity of brown adipose tissue.

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Laboratoire de Physiologie, Université de Lyon, CNRS, 43 Bvd 11 Novembre 1918, F-69622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France.


Lou/C rats, an inbred strain of Wistar origin, remain lean throughout life and therefore represent a remarkable model of obesity resistance. To date, the exact mechanisms responsible for the leanness of Lou/C rats remain unknown. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the leanness of Lou/C rats relies on increased thermogenic capacities in brown adipose tissue (BAT). Results showed that although daily energy expenditure was higher in Lou/C than in Wistar rats, BAT thermogenic capacity was not enhanced in Lou/C rats kept at thermoneutrality as demonstrated by reduced thermogenic response to norepinephrine in vivo, similar oxidative activity of BAT isolated mitochondria in vitro, similar levels of UCP1 mRNA and lower abundance of UCP1 protein in interscapular BAT depots. Relative abundance of β3-adrenergic receptor mRNA was lower in Lou/C BAT while that of GLUT4, FABP or CPT1 was not altered. Activity-related energy expenditure was however considerably increased at thermoneutrality as Lou/C rats demonstrated an impressively high spontaneous running activity in voluntary running wheels. Prolonged cold-exposure (4 °C) depressed the spontaneous running activity of Lou/C rats while BAT thermogenic capacity was increased as reflected by rises in BAT mass, oxidative activity and UCP1 expression. It is concluded that the leanness of Lou/C rats cannot be ascribed to higher thermogenic capacity of brown fat but rather to, at least in part, increased locomotor activity. BAT is not deficient in this rat strain as it can be stimulated by cold exposure when locomotor activity is reduced suggesting some substitution between these thermogenic processes.

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