Adaptive changes in thyroid function of female rats fed a high-fat and low-protein diet during gestation and lactation

Braz J Med Biol Res. 2006 Jun;39(6):809-16. doi: 10.1590/s0100-879x2006000600015. Epub 2006 Jun 2.


The percent of lipids in the western diet has been continuously increasing in the last decades and is associated with a decrease in the proportion of protein intake. Recently, we demonstrated that protein malnutrition during lactation is associated with lower body weight and thyroid hypofunction in female rats and their offspring. Our objective in the present study was to determine if a high-fat and low-protein diet was associated with similar changes. Three-month-old female Wistar rats were randomly assigned to one of the following groups with 8 animals each: high-fat and low-protein (40% lipid, 5% protein, and 55% carbohydrate of the total energy content) from the 3rd week of gestation to the end of lactation; control group--standard diet (11% lipid, 23% protein, and 66% carbohydrate of the total energy content). Food consumption and body weight were monitored daily. Serum thyrotropin and thyroid hormone concentrations were determined by specific radioimmunoassay at the end of lactation. Animals receiving high-fat and low-protein diet had a significantly lower body weight (13.9% at weaning, P < 0.05) and serum albumin (25%, P < 0.05) and thyrotropin (26.2%, P < 0.01) concentrations, and a higher serum triiodothyronine concentration (74%, P < 0.005) and 131I-thyroid uptake (77%, P < 0.005). These data show that a high-fat and low-protein diet can promote maternal thyroid hyperfunction that differs from the thyroid hypofunction observed in dams fed a low-protein diet, a phenomenon that can be of adaptive importance for pup nurturing.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Lactation / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Thyroid Gland / metabolism
  • Thyroid Gland / physiology*
  • Thyroid Hormones / analysis*
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism


  • Dietary Fats
  • Serum Albumin
  • Thyroid Hormones