Corticosterone administration in drinking water decreases high-fat diet intake but not preference in male rats

Gretha J. Boersma, Kellie L. Tamashiro, Timothy H. Moran, Nu Chu Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the mechanisms through which regular exercise contributes to weight maintenance could be by reducing intake and preference for high-fat (HF) diets. Indeed, we previously demonstrated that wheel-running rats robustly reduced HF diet intake and preference. The reduced HF diet preference by wheel running can be so profound that the rats consumed only the chow diet and completely avoided the HF diet. Because previous research indicates that exercise activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and increases circulating levels of corticosterone, this study tested the hypothesis that elevation of circulating corticosterone is involved in wheel running-induced reduction in HF diet preference in rats. Experiment 1 measured plasma corticosterone levels under sedentary and wheel-running conditions in the two-diet-choice (high-carbohydrate chow vs. HF) feeding regimen. The results revealed that plasma corticosterone is significantly increased and positively correlated with the levels of running in wheel-running rats with two-diet choice. Experiments 2 and 3 determined whether elevated corticosterone without wheel running is sufficient to reduce HF diet intake and preference. Corticosterone was elevated by adding it to the drinking water. Compared with controls, corticosterone-drinking rats had reduced HF diet intake and body weight, but the HF diet preference between groups did not differ. The results of this study support a role for elevated corticosterone on the reduced HF diet intake during wheel running. The elevation of corticosterone alone, however, is not sufficient to produce a robust reduction in HF diet preference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R733-R743
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2016


  • Corticosterone
  • Diet preference
  • High-fat diet
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Wheel running

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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