The xenohormesis theory postulates that animals, through the consumption of chemical cues, mainly polyphenols, synthetized by plants, are able to favorably adapt to changing environmental conditions. We hypothesized that the intake of fruits with a seasonally distinctive phenotype (in terms of bioactive compounds) produced a metabolic response that depends on mammals' circannual rhythms and that fruit intake out of season can lead to a disruption in characteristic seasonal metabolism. Fischer 344 rats were chronically exposed to short (L6, 6 h light/day) and long (L18, 18 h light/day) photoperiods in order to simulate autumn and spring seasons, respectively, and were fed either a standard diet (STD) or an obesogenic cafeteria diet (CAF) and orally treated with either vehicle or 100 mg kg-1 day-1 of lyophilized sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.), a fruit consumed during long-day seasons. Cherry consumption exerted a marked photoperiod-dependent effect, inducing more changes when it was consumed out of season, which was apparent in the following observations: (a) in L6 STD-fed rats, a down-regulation of the phosphorylated (p) levels of the downstream postreceptor target of insulin Akt2 in the soleus muscle and an enhancement of fatty acid transport and β-oxidation-related pathways, which was evidenced by increased Had gene expression (soleus) and pAMPK levels (soleus and gastrocnemius) and (b) an increase in whole-body fat oxidation and circulating levels of glucose and insulin in L6-CAF-fed obese rats. Although the pathophysiological significance of these results requires further research, our findings could contribute to highlighting the importance of the consumption of seasonal fruits to maintain optimal health.
Keywords: Cherry consumption; Circannual rhythms; Metabolic homeostasis; Polyphenols; Seasonal fruits; Xenohormesis theory.
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