Obesity is associated with an increase in the prevalence and severity of infections. Genetic animal models of obesity (ob/ob and db/db mice) display altered centrally-mediated sickness behaviour in response to acute inflammatory stimuli such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS). However, the effect of diet-induced obesity (DIO) on the anorectic and febrile response to LPS in mice is unknown. This study therefore determined how DIO and ob/ob mice respond to a systemic inflammatory challenge. C57BL/6 DIO and ob/ob mice, and their respective controls, were given an intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of LPS. Compared with controls, DIO and ob/ob mice exhibited an altered febrile response to LPS (100 μg/kg) over 8 hours. LPS caused a greater and more prolonged anorexic effect in DIO compared with control mice and, in ob/ob mice, LPS induced a reduction in food intake and body weight earlier than it did in controls. These effects of LPS in obese mice were also seen after a fixed dose of LPS (5 μg). LPS (100 μg/kg) induced Fos protein expression in several brain nuclei of control mice, with fewer Fos-positive cells observed in the brains of obese mice. An altered inflammatory response to LPS was also observed in obese mice compared with controls: changes in cytokine expression and release were detected in the plasma, spleen, liver and peritoneal macrophages in obese mice. In summary, DIO and ob/ob mice displayed an altered behavioural response and cytokine release to systemic inflammatory challenge. These findings could help explain why obese humans show increased sensitivity to infections.
- Received November 11, 2011.
- Accepted January 21, 2012.
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