Behavioral consequences of exposure to a high fat diet during the post-weaning period in rats

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Abstract

We explored the impact of exposure to an obesogenic diet (High Fat–High Sucrose; HFS) during the post-weaning period on sweet preference and behaviors linked to reward and anxiety. All rats were fed chow. In addition a HFS-transient group had access to this diet for 10 days from post-natal (PN) day 22 and a HFS-continuous group continued access until adult. Behavioral tests were conducted immediately after PN 32 (adolescence) or after PN 60 (adult) and included: the condition place preference (CPP) test for chocolate, sugar and saccharin preference (anhedonia), the elevated plus maze (anxiety-like behavior) and the locomotor response to quinpirole in the open field. Behavior was unaltered in adult rats in the HFS-transient group, suggesting that a short exposure to this obesogenic food does not induce long-term effects in food preferences, reward perception and value of palatable food, anxiety or locomotor activity. Nevertheless, rats that continued to have access to HFS ate less chocolate during CPP training and consumed less saccharin and sucrose when tested in adolescence, effects that were attenuated when these rats became adult. Moreover, behavioral effects linked to transient HFS exposure in adolescence were not sustained if the rats did not remain on that diet until adult. Collectively our data demonstrate that exposure to fat and sucrose in adolescence can induce immediate reward hypofunction after only 10 days on the diet. Moreover, this effect is attenuated when the diet is extended until the adult period, and completely reversed when the HFS diet is removed.

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