Energy Dense, Protein Restricted Diet Increases Adiposity and Perturbs Metabolism in Young, Genetically Lean Pigs


Animal models of obesity and metabolic dysregulation during growth (or childhood) are lacking. Our objective was to increase adiposity and induce metabolic syndrome in young, genetically lean pigs. Pre-pubertal female pigs, age 35 d, were fed a high-energy diet (HED; n = 12), containing 15% tallow, 35% refined sugars and 9.1–12.9% crude protein, or a control corn-based diet (n = 11) with 12.2–19.2% crude protein for 16 wk. Initially, HED pigs self-regulated energy intake similar to controls, but by wk 5, consumed more (P<0.001) energy per kg body weight. At wk 15, pigs were subjected to an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT); blood glucose increased (P<0.05) in control pigs and returned to baseline levels within 60 min. HED pigs were hyperglycemic at time 0, and blood glucose did not return to baseline (P = 0.01), even 4 h post-challenge. During OGTT, glucose area under the curve (AUC) was higher and insulin AUC was lower in HED pigs compared to controls (P = 0.001). Chronic HED intake increased (P<0.05) subcutaneous, intramuscular, and perirenal fat deposition, and induced hyperglycemia, hypoinsulinemia, and low-density lipoprotein hypercholesterolemia. A subset of HED pigs (n = 7) was transitioned back to a control diet for an additional six weeks. These pigs were subjected to an additional OGTT at 22 wk. Glucose AUC and insulin AUC did not improve, supporting that dietary intervention was not sufficient to recover glucose tolerance or insulin production. These data suggest a HED may be used to increase adiposity and disrupt glucose homeostasis in young, growing pigs.