Physiol. Res. 53: 177-186, 2004

Obesity and Changes of Alkaline Phosphatase Activity in the Small Intestine of 40- and 80-day-old Rats Subjected to Early Postnatal Overfeeding or Monosodium Glutamate


Institute of Animal Physiology, Slovak Academy of Sciences and 1Department of Pathology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Košice, Slovak Republic

Received September 16, 2002
Accepted May 12, 2003

To investigate the relationship between development of obesity and the small intestinal functions two experimental models of male Wistar rats were used in the present work: 1) early postnatally overfed rats, nursed from birth to weaning in small litters (SL, 4 pups/nest), and 2) neonatally monosodium glutamate treated rats (MSG 2 mg/g b.w. administered s.c. for 4 days after birth) submitted to the same early nutritional manipulation. After weaning, all animals had free access to a standard pellet diet and at 40 and 80 days of age their body weight, body fat content and food consumption as well as changes of the brush-border-bound duodenal and jejunal alkaline phosphatase (AP) activity were compared with parameters of the offsprings raised under normal feeding conditions (NL, 8 pups/nest). At 40 and 80 days of age the postnatally overfed pups from SL nests became heavier, displayed a significantly increased epididymal plus retroperitoneal fat pad weight (P<0.01) and significantly higher AP activity in both segments of the small intestine (P<0.01) in comparison with rats nursed in NL nests, although their mean daily food intake did not differ from that of non-obese rats during the postweaning periods examined. In contrast, the same treatment of MSG rats had only a small effect on late appearance of obesity, i.e. in early postnatally overfed and normally fed MSG rats a similar pattern of body weight, food intake, adiposity and AP activity was found after weaning. The effect of MSG-treatment was also accompanied by the appearance of normophagia, hypophagia and stunted growth on day 40 and day 80, respectively. Moreover, the size of fat depots and the increase of brush-border-bound AP activity in MSG rats belonging to the SL and NL groups was quantitatively similar to the values size of these parameters observed in SL obese rats subjected to early postnatal overnutrition. These results indicate that postnatal nutritional experience (overnutrition) may represent a predisposing factor in control rats from small litters for the development of obesity in later life. Permanently increased small intestinal AP activity observed after weaning in both models of obesity when hyperphagia is not present suggest that these functional changes and associated alterations in food digestion could be a component of regulatory mechanisms contributing to the maintenance of their elevated body fat weight.

Key words
Early postnatal overnutrition • Metabolic imprinting • Neonatal MSG treatment • Alkaline phosphatase • Small intestine • Obesity


© 2004 by the Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences