Effects of a High-Fat Diet on Tissue Mass, Bone, and Glucose Tolerance after Chronic Complete Spinal Cord Transection in Male Mice

Neurotrauma Rep. 2020 Jul 23;1(1):17-31. doi: 10.1089/neur.2020.0014. eCollection 2020.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is associated with obesity and is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Immobilization, muscle atrophy, obesity, and loss of sympathetic innervation to the liver are believed to contribute to risks of these abnormalities. Systematic study of the mechanisms underlying SCI-induced metabolic disorders has been limited by a lack of animal models of insulin resistance following SCI. Therefore, the effects of a high-fat diet (HFD), which causes weight gain and glucose intolerance in neurologically intact mice, was tested in mice that had undergone a spinal cord transection at thoracic vertebra 10 (T10) or a sham-transection. At 84 days after surgery, Sham-HFD and SCI-HFD mice showed impaired intraperitoneal glucose tolerance when compared with Sham control (Sham-Con) or SCI control (SCI-Con) mice fed a standard control chow. Glucose tolerance in SCI-Con mice was comparable to that of Sham-Con mice. The mass of paralyzed skeletal muscle, liver, and epididymal, inguinal, and omental fat deposits were lower in SCI versus Sham groups, with lower liver mass present in SCI-HFD versus SCI-Con animals. SCI also produced sublesional bone loss, with no differences between SCI-Con and SCI-HFD groups. The results suggest that administration of a HFD to mice after SCI may provide a model to better understand mechanisms leading to insulin resistance post-SCI, as well as an approach to study pathogenesis of glucose intolerance that is independent of obesity.

Keywords: high-fat diet; metabolism; paralysis; spinal cord injury; type 2 diabetes.