Endothelial and vascular dysfunctions and insulin resistance in rats fed a high-fat, high-sucrose diet

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2008 Sep;295(3):H1044-H1055. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00516.2008. Epub 2008 Jul 3.


This study was designed to examine the effects of a high-fat, high-sucrose (HFHS) diet on vascular and metabolic actions of insulin. Male rats were randomized to receive an HFHS or regular chow diet for 4 wk. In a first series of experiments, the rats had pulsed Doppler flow probes and intravascular catheters implanted to measure blood pressure, heart rate, and regional blood flows. Insulin sensitivity and vascular responses to insulin were assessed during a euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp performed in conscious rats. In a second series of experiments, new groups of rats were used to examine skeletal muscle glucose transport activity and to determine in vitro vascular reactivity, endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) protein expression in muscle and vascular tissues and endothelin content, nitrotyrosine formation, and NAD(P)H oxidase protein expression in vascular tissues. The HFHS-fed rats displayed insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, hypertriglyceridemia, hyperlipidemia, elevated blood pressure, and impaired insulin-mediated renal and skeletal muscle vasodilator responses. A reduction in endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation, accompanied by a decreased eNOS protein expression in muscles and blood vessel endothelium, and increased vascular endothelin-1 protein content were also noted in HFHS-fed rats compared with control rats. Furthermore, the HFHS diet induced a reduced insulin-stimulated glucose transport activity in muscles and increased levels of NAD(P)H oxidase protein and nitrotyrosine formation in vascular tissues. These findings support the importance of eNOS protein in linking metabolic and vascular disease and indicate the ability of a Westernized diet to induce endothelial dysfunction and to alter metabolic and vascular homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Deoxyglucose / metabolism
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / toxicity*
  • Endothelin-1 / biosynthesis
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Male
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sucrose / toxicity*
  • Triglycerides / metabolism
  • Tyrosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Tyrosine / metabolism
  • Vascular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Vascular Resistance / drug effects


  • Dietary Fats
  • Endothelin-1
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin
  • Triglycerides
  • 3-nitrotyrosine
  • Tyrosine
  • Sucrose
  • Deoxyglucose