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High Pancreatic Amylase Expression Promotes Adiposity in Obesity-Prone Carbohydrate-Sensitive Rats



Background: We have reported large differences in adiposity (fat mass/body weight) gain between rats fed a low-fat, high-starch diet, leading to their classification into carbohydrate “sensitive” and “resistant” rats. In sensitive animals, fat accumulates in visceral adipose tissues, leading to the suggestion that this form of obesity could be responsible for rapid development of metabolic syndrome.

Objective: We investigated whether increased amylase secretion by the pancreas and accelerated starch degradation in the intestine could be responsible for this phenotype.

Method: Thirty-two male Wistar rats (7-wk-old) were fed a purified low-fat (10%), high-carbohydrate diet for 6 wk, in which most of the carbohydrate (64% by energy) was provided as corn starch. Meal tolerance tests of the Starch diet were performed to measure glucose and insulin responses to meal ingestion. Indirect calorimetry combined with use of 13C-labelled dietary starch was used to assess meal-induced changes in whole body and starch-derived glucose oxidation. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to assess mRNA expression in pancreas, liver, white and brown adipose tissues, and intestine. Amylase activity was measured in the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum contents. ANOVA and regression analyses were used for statistical comparisons.

Results: “Resistant” and “sensitive” rats were separated according to adiposity gain during the study (1.73% ± 0.20% compared with 4.35% ± 0.36%). Breath recovery of 13CO2 from 13C-labelled dietary starch was higher in “sensitive” rats, indicating a larger increase in whole body glucose oxidation and, conversely, a larger decrease in lipid oxidation. Amylase mRNA expression in pancreas, and amylase activity in jejunum, were also higher in sensitive rats.

Conclusions: Differences in digestion of starch can promote visceral fat accumulation in rats when fed a low-fat, high-starch diet. This mechanism may have important implications in human obesity.


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