High-fat diets promote insulin resistance through cytokine gene expression in growing female rats

J Nutr Biochem. 2008 Aug;19(8):505-513. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2007.06.005. Epub 2007 Sep 27.


To determine if tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). IL-6 gene expression is influenced by amount and source of dietary fat, 30 weanling female rats were randomly assigned to a moderate-fat soybean oil (MFS; 22% of total energy fed as fat), high-fat (HF) soybean oil (HFS; 39% of total energy fed as fat), or HF tallow (HFT; 39% of total energy fed as fat) diet treatments. Oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) were conducted serially over 10 weeks of treatment. HFT and HFS rats gained more weight and had greater body fat than the MFS rats fed similar amounts of energy. Both groups of HF-fed rats had greater (P<.05) insulin resistance (homeostasis model assessment) than MFS-fed rats. TNF-alpha mRNA abundance quantified by real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction was greater (P<.05) in liver and lower (P<.05) in adipose tissue in HFT compared to HFS and MFS rats. There were positive correlations (P<.05) between hepatic TNF-alpha mRNA and insulin resistance, and negative correlations between insulin sensitivity and hepatic TNF-alpha mRNA and hepatic IL-6 mRNA. During Week 3 and Week 6 OGTTs, hyperinsulinemic responses were observed in the HFT group, after which, on Week 9, insulin secretion was diminished in response to the OGTT, suggesting impaired pancreatic insulin secretion. HFS rats exhibited insulin resistance on Week 9 OGTT. In summary, an HFT diet fed to growing female rats caused insulin resistance associated with increased hepatic TNF-alpha mRNA leading to pancreatic insufficiency. Early-onset insulin resistance related to the inflammatory process in obesity is influenced by the amount and type of fat in the diet.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / genetics*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Hyperinsulinism
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Interleukin-1 / genetics
  • Leptin / blood
  • Liver / chemistry
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Weaning
  • Weight Gain


  • Cytokines
  • Dietary Fats
  • Insulin
  • Interleukin-1
  • Leptin
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha