Objective: The goal of this study was to determine whether differential induction of skeletal muscle uncoupling protein 3 (UCP3) contributes to the development of diet-induced obesity (DIO) or resistance to the development of obesity (DR) when rats are placed on a moderate fat (31%) high energy (HE) diet.
Research methods and procedures: Gastrocnemius muscle was obtained from Sprague-Dawley rats that were identified as DIO-prone (n = 5) or DR (n = 5) on the basis of urinary norepinephrine excretion while consuming a chow diet. Muscle was also obtained from animals in the top tertile of weight gain (DIOHE, n = 5) and the bottom tertile of weight gain (DRHE, n = 5) after 2 weeks on the HE diet. UCP3 and actin mRNA levels were measured in all muscle samples by Northern analysis. To distinguish the effect of dietary energy content from the effect of obesity itself, we studied additional DIO and DR animals that had been returned to a chow diet for 10 weeks after consuming a HE diet for 10 weeks.
Results: The muscle UCP3/actin mRNA ratio in animals that resisted the development of obesity during 2 weeks on the HE diet was 3-fold higher than in the other groups (DRHE = 3.24 +/- 0.83, DIOHE = 0.91 +/- 0.20, DIO-prone = 0.72 +/- 0.15, DR = 0.63 +/- 0.15; p = 0.002). However, there was no difference in muscle UCP3/actin mRNA ratios between DIO animals and DR animals that had been fed the HE diet for 10 weeks and then returned to either an ad libitum chow diet for 10 weeks (DIO = 13.8 +/- 3.53, DR = 11.1 +/- 3.43, p = NS) or to a restricted chow diet for 10 weeks (DIO = 11.0 +/- 2.85, DR = 10.6 +/- 2.20, p = NS) despite significantly greater body weight of the DIO animals.
Discussion: DR animals may initially resist weight gain when placed on a HE diet through a greater induction of muscle UCP3. This induction is transient and is related more closely to dietary fat content than to body fat stores. DIO animals show no initial induction of muscle UCP3, which may contribute to their increased metabolic efficiency soon after exposure to a HE diet.