Feeding a corn oil/sucrose-enriched diet enhances steatohepatitis in sedentary rats

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2006 Feb;290(2):G386-93. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00229.2005. Epub 2005 Oct 13.


The current study investigated the combined effects of feeding a high-fat/high-sucrose (HF/HS) diet to rodents rendered sedentary via hindlimb unloading (HU). For 3 wk before HU, male Wistar rats were fed chow or a diet in which 32% of calories were derived from corn oil fat and 48% of calories from sucrose. Feeding continued during an additional 3-wk period of HU. Subsequently, blood samples were collected for determination of circulating leukocyte counts, insulin levels, and portal vein endotoxin. Inflammation, necrosis, and steatosis were assessed in formalin-fixed liver sections. No biochemical or histological evidence of injury was observed in control rats fed chow or HF/HS. HU increased circulating neutrophils and resulted in hyperinsulinemia. Mild hepatic fat accumulation and minimal focal necroinflammation were observed in this group. Feeding HF/HS during HU exacerbated hyperinsulinemia, hepatic steatosis, Kupffer cell content, and cytokine expression. Significant portal endotoxemia was noted in HU rats but was not influenced by HF/HS diet. On the other hand, feeding HF/HS significantly enhanced lipid peroxidation end products in liver of HU rats by approximately threefold compared with chow-fed rats. In summary, these findings demonstrate that feeding a high-calorie diet potentiates steatosis and injury in sedentary HU rats. Mechanisms underlying enhanced injury most likely involved lipid peroxidation. Importantly, these findings suggest that dietary manipulation combined with physical inactivity can be used to model steatohepatitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Corn Oil / pharmacology*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Endotoxemia / blood
  • Endotoxemia / metabolism
  • Endotoxins / metabolism
  • Hepatitis / etiology*
  • Hepatitis / pathology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Liver / pathology
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / enzymology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sucrose / pharmacology*
  • Transaminases / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Endotoxins
  • Insulin
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Sucrose
  • Corn Oil
  • Transaminases