Sucrose consumption alters steroid and dopamine signalling in the female rat brain

in Journal of Endocrinology
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  • 1 Department of Psychology, The University of British Columbia
  • 2 Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 3 Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  • 4 Department of Zoology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Correspondence should be addressed to K K Soma:

(D J Tobiansky is now at Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA)

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Sucrose consumption is associated with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive deficits. Sucrose intake during pregnancy might have particularly prominent effects on metabolic, endocrine, and neural physiology. It remains unclear how consumption of sucrose affects parous females, especially in brain circuits that mediate food consumption and reward processing. Here, we examine whether a human-relevant level of sucrose before, during, and after pregnancy (17–18 weeks total) influences metabolic and neuroendocrine physiology in female rats. Females were fed either a control diet or a macronutrient-matched, isocaloric sucrose diet (25% of kcal from sucrose). Metabolically, sucrose impairs glucose tolerance, increases liver lipids, and increases a marker of adipose inflammation, but has no effect on body weight or overall visceral adiposity. Sucrose also decreases corticosterone levels in serum but not in the brain. Sucrose increases progesterone levels in serum and in the brain and increases the brain:serum ratio of progesterone in the mesocorticolimbic system and hypothalamus. These data suggest a dysregulation of systemic and local steroid signalling. Moreover, sucrose decreases tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a catecholamine-synthetic enzyme, in the medial prefrontal cortex. Finally, sucrose consumption alters the expression pattern of FOSB, a marker of phasic dopamine signalling, in the nucleus accumbens. Overall, chronic consumption of sucrose at a human-relevant level alters metabolism, steroid levels, and brain dopamine signalling in a female rat model.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Table 1
    • Supplementary Table 2
    • Supplementary Table 3
    • SupplementalFigure1.Bilateralmicrodissectedpunchlocationstakenfromfreshfrozentissuesectionsslicedat300μm.Puncheswererandomlyextractedfromtherightorlefthemisphere,hencethebilateraldistributionofpunchholes.AllpuncheswereusedforsteroidanalysisviaLC-MS/MS.PunchplacementwasverifiedattheendofthestudybyaNisslcounterstain.Rostraltocaudal.


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