Characteristics of the obesity syndrome in Zucker-Brown Norway (ZBN) hybrid rats.

B. L. Busch, P. R. Johnson, J. S. Stern, M. R. Greenwood, Barbara A Horwitz

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3 Scopus citations


The existence of a restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) closely linked to the fatty locus between the Zucker (Z) and Brown Norway (BN) rat strains allows evaluation of early effects of the fatty (fa) gene using offspring of back-crosses (N2) between F1 females and Zucker obese males. We examined several metabolic characteristics of N2 animals to determine if these hybrid animals exhibited similar characteristics of the obese syndrome to those of Zucker rats. Females from crosses of obese male Zucker (fa/fa) and lean female BN (+/+) rats were back-crossed to their sires, resulting in twelve N2 litters. At 9 weeks of age, liver, spleen, interscapular brown fat (IBAT), and gonadal, retroperitoneal (RP), and inguinal fat depots were removed and weighed. Samples of the RP depot were analyzed for cell size and number. Obese N2 rats were hyperphagic, with body weights in the range of those of obese Zucker rats. Obese N2 rats were also hyperinsulinemic [mean +/- SEM, microU/ml: females, 7.9 +/- 0.6 vs. 82.1 +/- 8.4 (lean vs. obese); males, 10.5 +/- 1.6 vs. 128.5 +/- 13.4 (lean vs. obese)] and mildly hyperglycemic [mean +/- SEM, mg/dl: females, 104.1 +/- 2.0 vs. 139.0 +/- 14.7 (lean vs. obese); males, 100.9 +/- 2.6 vs. 132.0 +/- 2.8 (lean vs. obese) p < or = 0.05]. White fat depots in obese rats were 3 to 7 times heavier than those in lean rats; adipocyte numbers in RP depots were 50% greater in obese than in lean rats; and cell size was more than 3 times larger. IBAT, liver, and spleen were also heavier in obese vs. lean rats, while tail lengths were shorter. Percent lean carcass mass and % carcass protein were about 30% greater in lean vs. obese rats, while % carcass fat in obese rats was 5 times greater than that of lean rats. Thus, phenotypic expression of the fa gene in ZBN hybrid animals, with approximately 25% of their genetic background coming from the BN strain, appears to be similar to that in Zucker rats. Given the similarity of phenotypic expression of the fa gene between the Zucker strain and ZBN hybrids, it is plausible to consider using ZBN hybrids for studies of early manifestations of fa gene action prior to onset of detectable obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
JournalObesity research.
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Endocrinology
  • Food Science
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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