Dietary fat and corticosterone levels are contributing factors to meal anticipation

Sara Namvar, Amy Gyte, Mark Denn, Brendan Leighton, Hugh D Piggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Daily restricted access to food leads to the development of food anticipatory activity and metabolism, which depends upon an as yet unidentified food-entrainable oscillator(s). A premeal anticipatory peak in circulating hormones, including corticosterone is also elicited by daily restricted feeding. High-fat feeding is associated with elevated levels of corticosterone with disrupted circadian rhythms and a failure to develop robust meal anticipation. It is not clear whether the disrupted corticosterone rhythm, resulting from high-fat feeding contributes to attenuated meal anticipation in high-fat fed rats. Our aim was to better characterize meal anticipation in rats fed a low- or high-fat diet, and to better understand the role of corticosterone in this process. To this end, we utilized behavioral observations, hypothalamic c-Fos expression, and indirect calorimetry to assess meal entrainment. We also used the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist, RU486, to dissect out the role of corticosterone in meal anticipation in rats given daily access to a meal with different fat content. Restricted access to a low-fat diet led to robust meal anticipation, as well as entrainment of hypothalamic c-Fos expression, metabolism, and circulating corticosterone. These measures were significantly attenuated in response to a high-fat diet, and animals on this diet exhibited a postanticipatory rise in corticosterone. Interestingly, antagonism of glucocorticoid activity using RU486 attenuated meal anticipation in low-fat fed rats, but promoted meal anticipation in high-fat-fed rats. These findings suggest an important role for corticosterone in the regulation of meal anticipation in a manner dependent upon dietary fat content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R711-23
JournalAmerican journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2016


  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Anticipation, Psychological
  • Appetite Regulation
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Dietary Fats
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Hormone Antagonists
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Hypothalamus
  • Male
  • Mifepristone
  • Motor Activity
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Time Factors
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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