Early onset of obesity induces reproductive deficits in female rats

Sara C. Sagae, Everson Ferreira Menezes, Maria L. Bonfleur, Emerielle C. Vanzela, Patrícia Zacharias, Camila Lubaczeuski, Celso R. Franci, Gilberto L. Sanvitto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The incidence of obesity is increasing rapidly all over the world and results in numerous health detriments, including disruptions in reproduction. However, the mechanisms by which excess body fat interferes with reproductive functions are still not fully understood. After weaning, female rats were treated with a cafeteria diet or a chow diet (control group). Biometric and metabolic parameters were evaluated in adulthood. Reproductive parameters, including estradiol, progesterone, LH and prolactin during the proestrus afternoon, sexual behavior, ovulation rates and histological analysis of ovaries were also evaluated. Cafeteria diet was able to induce obesity in female rats by increasing body and fat pad weight, which resulted in increased levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL and induced insulin resistance. The cafeteria diet also negatively affected female reproduction by reducing the number of oocytes and preantral follicles, as well as the thickness of the follicular layer. Obese females did not show preovulatory progesterone and LH surges, though plasma estradiol and prolactin showed preovulatory surges similar to control rats. Nevertheless, sexual receptiveness was not altered by cafeteria diet. Taken together, our results suggest that the cafeteria diet administered from weaning age was able to induce obesity and reduce the reproductive capability in adult female rats, indicating that this obesity model can be used to better understand the mechanisms underlying reproductive dysfunction in obese subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1104-1111
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology AND Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 20 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Estradiol
  • Follicle development
  • Luteinizing hormone surge
  • Obesity
  • Ovulation
  • Progesterone
  • Sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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