High-protein diet improves sensitivity to cholecystokinin and shifts the cecal microbiome without altering brain inflammation in diet-induced obesity in rats

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2017 Oct 1;313(4):R473-R486. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00105.2017. Epub 2017 Jul 19.


High-protein diet (HPD) curtails obesity and/or fat mass, but it is unknown whether it reverses neuroinflammation or alters glucose levels, CCK sensitivity, and gut microbiome in rats fed a Western diet (WD)-induced obesity (DIO). Male rats fed a WD (high fat and sugar) for 12 wk were switched to a HPD for 6 wk. Body composition, food intake, meal pattern, sensitivity to intraperitoneal CCK-8S, blood glucose, brain signaling, and cecal microbiota were assessed. When compared with a normal diet, WD increased body weight (9.3%) and fat mass (73.4%). CCK-8S (1.8 or 5.2 nmol/kg) did not alter food intake and meal pattern in DIO rats. Switching to a HPD for 6 wk reduced fat mass (15.7%) with a nonsignificantly reduced body weight gain, normalized blood glucose, and decreased feeding after CCK-8S. DIO rats on the WD or switched to a HPD showed comparable microbial diversity. However, in HPD versus WD rats, there was enrichment of 114 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and depletion of 188 OTUs. Of those, Akkermansia muciniphila (enriched on a HPD), an unclassified Clostridiales, a member of the RF39 order, and a Phascolarctobacterium were significantly associated with fat mass. The WD increased cytokine expression in the hypothalamus and dorsal medulla that was unchanged by switching to HPD. These data indicate that HPD reduces body fat and restores glucose homeostasis and CCK sensitivity, while not modifying brain inflammation. In addition, expansion of cecal Akkermansia muciniphila correlated to fat mass loss may represent a potential peripheral mechanism of HPD beneficial effects.

Keywords: blood glucose; body composition; gut microbiota; high-fat diet; meal pattern.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cecum / drug effects*
  • Cecum / metabolism
  • Cecum / microbiology
  • Cholecystokinin / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Diet, Western
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Encephalitis / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Microbiota / drug effects*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / microbiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cytokines
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Cholecystokinin