Longevity in obese and lean male and female rats of the Zucker strain: Prevention of hyperphagia

Patricia R. Johnson, Judith S. Stern, Barbara A Horwitz, Robert E. Harris, Stephanie F. Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Zucker obese (fa/fa) and lean (Fa/Fa) rats were fed a soy protein diet ad libitum under barrier conditions from 4 wk of age until death. Obese rats were also pair fed with lean controls to prevent hyperphagia. Time of death was determined and tissues collected at necropsy for histologic examination. Lean rats had longer 10th percentile survivorship (males 966 compared with 667 d, females 983 compared with 620 d) and maximum life spans (males 1067 compared with 803 d, females 1163 compared with 744 d) than did obese rats. Preventing hyperphagia increased maximum life span in both males (1010 d) and females (975 d). Pathologies in lean rats were similar to those reported for other rodent strains. For obese rats fed ad libitum, end-stage renal disease (ESRD) was the major cause of mortality (males: 91.1%, females: 93.3%). Prevention of hyperphagia decreased deaths attributable to ESRD (males: 64.4%, females: 51.1%). A smaller restriction in energy intake (8-18%) required to prevent hyperphagia compared with the 35-40% in most other studies produced similar increases in longevity, suggesting that obese Zucker rats are particularly sensitive to energy restriction. Amelioration of early onset of renal disease is a likely explanation. Percentage body fat in food- restricted obese rats did not differ from that of animals fed ad libitum; thus, reduced longevity is not the result of obesity per se, but rather is influenced by other metabolic pathologies occurring in this strain of rats homozygous for the fa gene. Because microalbuminuria with progression to ESRD is a complication in human obesity, the Zucker strain offers the opportunity to investigate initiating mechanisms of this pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)890-903
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Aging
  • Energy restriction
  • Hyperphagia
  • Obesity
  • Renal disease
  • Sex
  • Zucker rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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