Enriched Environment Moderates Obesity in Genetically Hyperphagic Oletf Rats in a Sex Dependent Manner

M. Schroeder, L. Shbiro, A. Weller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of housing conditions on long-term voluntary food intake, body weight, and adiposity levels in the OLETF rat model of obesity. OLETF males and females develop obesity in a gradual manner and have been reported as presenting 30–40% more body weight and fat than LETO rat controls as adults. Here, rats of both sexes were provided with either customary conditions (two rats in standard-sized cages with bedding) or enriched conditions (four rats in large cages with a variety of types of bedding and toys) starting at the time of weaning. No alterations were found in any of the parameters in the LETO strain and in the OLETF females, whereas OLETF males showed decreased food intake, body mass, and adiposity as well as reduced levels of the adiposity hormone leptin. This study is the first to report that housing conditions are variables that are as critical in the study of obesity and energy balance as they are in studies examining emotionality and cognition. The standard laboratory animal environment may thus represent a confounding variable in research on obesity, producing an additive effect to the genetic predisposition that may worsen the obese phenotype (at least in males). This effect may lead to an inaccurate estimation of the direct health consequences of a specific genetic abnormality, compromising experimental results.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)39-45
JournalILAR Journal
StatePublished - 2011


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