The metabolic consequences of the development of obesity and the underlying mechanisms were investigated. For this purpose, male rats were overfed for 5 weeks through long-term gastric catheters. Permanent cardiac cannulas implanted before the overfeeding period allowed frequent blood sampling and infusions without disturbing the rats. Hyperalimented rats became grossly obese, displayed elevated basal plasma norepinephrine (NE) concentrations, and developed hyperinsulinemia and insulin insensitivity, but remained normoglycemic and preserved normal intravenous (IV) glucose tolerance. During physical exercise (ie, 15 minutes of swimming), obese rats displayed exaggerated increases in blood glucose concentrations, whereas plasma free fatty acid (FFA) responses were blunted. These alterations were probably due to decreased NE release by the sympathetic nervous system during exercise and to altered tissue responsivity to adrenergic stimulation. The latter was demonstrated by infusions of catecholamines in the resting state. Responses to mild stress were increased in obese animals, as indicated by increased responses of plasma epinephrine (E) and corticosterone during handling and first contact with water. The results of the present study indicate that overfeeding induces changes in the sympathetic control of metabolism and insulin secretion. Whereas elevated NE levels in the basal state probably reflect increased energy expenditure, the pattern of nutrient mobilization during exercise is directed toward sparing of fats.
- FREE FATTY-ACIDS
- EXERCISING RATS