Evalution of the castrated male Sprague-Dawley rat as a model of the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes

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Low testosterone levels have been shown to be predictive for the development of the metabolic syndrome in men. The aim of this study was to describe effects of testosterone deficiency on metabolic syndrome-related parameters in male rats in order to evaluate the rat as a model for the human metabolic syndrome related to low testosterone levels.


Male Sprague-Dawley rats were castrated or sham operated at 16 weeks of age and fed either a standard or a high energy diet. Measured parameters were: food intake, body weight, fat distribution, energy expenditure, physical activity and blood/plasma parameters related to glucose and lipid metabolism.


Castration led to an increase in the amount of subcutaneous fat, but did not result in any changes in the visceral fat. Fasting blood glucose levels were increased and free fatty acids concentration decreased in the castrated rats from 2 weeks after castration and throughout the study, whereas no significant differences between the groups were found in any of the other parameters measured. A high-energy diet did not change the response to castration in male Sprague-Dawley rats.


Compared to humans rats respond differently to testosterone deficiency. Only few of the features typical for the human metabolic syndrome were observed in castrated male Sprague-Dawley rats. Therefore, we conclude that with the present experimental setup the castrated rat is not an optimal model for studies on the influence of testosterone deficiency on body fat distribution and the development of other central components of the metabolic syndrome.

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