Visceral obesity without insulin resistance in late-onset obesity rats

Endocrinology. 2004 Jun;145(6):2666-79. doi: 10.1210/en.2003-1608. Epub 2004 Mar 19.


We describe a line of transgenic rats in which the males develop a unique autosomal dominant, late-onset obesity (LOB) phenotype. LOB males gradually accumulate fat specifically in visceral, but not peripheral, fat depots despite a normal intake of a low fat diet. LOB females normally develop only mild obesity with advanced age. However, the phenotype can be induced rapidly in young females by ovariectomy and prevented by estrogen replacement. LOB males are highly sensitive to dietary fat. Young, nonobese LOB males gain more weight on a 30% fat diet and lose more weight when treated with the lipase inhibitor, Orlistat, than their nontransgenic littermates. Remarkably, despite severe visceral obesity, LOB rats have normal fasting blood glucose, insulin, and corticosterone; show normal or increased insulin sensitivity in glucose and insulin tolerance tests; have increased plasma adiponectin levels; and display a heightened response to treatment with rosiglitazone. Their visceral adiposity reflects a specific increase in visceral adipocyte number, not size. Analysis of the transgene in LOB rats revealed a deletion in the gene encoding the S26 subunit of the mitochondrial ribosome that results in the production of a truncated protein, which we show to be imported into mitochondria. However, the transgene integrant is complex, so whether this is the sole molecular disruption underlying this phenotype remains to be established. Nevertheless, LOB rats provide a valuable new model of late-onset, male-preponderant, visceral-specific obesity, clearly dissociated from insulin resistance.

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Body Temperature
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacokinetics
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Eating
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Growth Hormone / pharmacology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Ovariectomy
  • Phenotype
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Thiazolidinediones / pharmacology
  • Time Factors
  • Viscera*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Estradiol
  • Growth Hormone
  • Glucose