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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 May;114(9):1158-64. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01127.2012. Epub 2013 Feb 28.

Prior caloric restriction increases survival of prepubertal obese- and PCOS-prone rats exposed to a challenge of time-limited feeding and physical activity.

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Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases Laboratory, Alberta Institute of Human Nutrition, Alberta Diabetes Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


We hypothesized that a polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) background associated with obese-prone genotype, coupled with preconditioning by caloric restriction, would confer a survival benefit in genetically prepubertal obese/PCOS (O/PCOS)-prone rats faced with an unpredictable challenge of food shortage. Female, juvenile JCR:LA-cp rats, O/PCOS- and lean-prone, were exposed to 1.5 h of daily meals and 22.5 h of voluntary wheel-running, a procedure that leads to activity anorexia (AA). One week before the AA challenge (AAC), O/PCOS-prone rats were freely fed (O/PCOS-FF) or pair fed (O/PCOS-FR) to lean-prone, free-feeding animals (Lean-FF). O/PCOS-FR and lean-prone, food-restricted (Lean-FR) groups were matched on relative average caloric intake. Animals were removed from protocol at 75% of initial body weight (starvation criterion) or after 14 days (survival criterion). The AAC induced weight loss in all rats, but there were significant effects of both genotype and feeding history on weight loss (lean-prone rats exhibited a higher rate of weight loss than O/PCOS-prone; P < 0.001), and rats with prior caloric restriction retained more weight than those free fed previously (90.68 ± 0.59% vs. 85.47 ± 0.46%; P < 0.001). The daily rate of running was higher in lean-prone rats compared with O/PCOS-prone. This difference in running rate correlated with differences in mean days of survival. All O/PCOS-FR rats survived at day 14. O/PCOS-FF rats survived longer (10.00 ± 0.97 days) than Lean-FR (6.17 ± 1.58 days) and Lean-FF (4.33 ± 0.42 days) rats (P < 0.05). Thus preconditioning by caloric restriction induces a substantial survival advantage, beyond genotype alone, in prepubertal O/PCOS-prone rats.


JCR:LA-cp rat; food restriction; obese- and PCOS-prone genotype; survival; wheel-running

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