Impact of ovariohysterectomy and food intake on body composition, physical activity, and adipose gene expression in cats

K. R. Belsito, B. M. Vester, T. Keel, T. K. Graves, K. S. Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mechanisms contributing to BW gain following ovariohysterectomy in domestic cats are poorly understood. Moreover, the effects of food restriction to maintain BW following spaying have been poorly studied. Thus, our primary objective was to determine the effects of spaying and food restriction to maintain BW on adipose and skeletal muscle mRNA abundance and activity levels in cats. After a 4-wk baseline period (wk 0), 8 adult (approximately 1.5 yr old) domestic shorthair cats were spayed and fed to maintain BW for 12 wk. After 12 wk, cats were fed ad libitum for an additional 12 wk. Body composition was determined, activity levels were measured, and adipose and muscle biopsies were collected at wk 0, 12, and 24. Fasting blood samples were collected at wk 0, 6, 12, 18, and 24. To maintain BW post-spay, food intake was decreased (P < 0.05) by 30%. During this phase, mRNA abundance of adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase and leptin was decreased (P < 0.05), representing only 52 and 23% of baseline expression, respectively. Interleukin-6 mRNA, however, was increased (P < 0.05) 2-fold. Physical activity was decreased (P < 0.05) by wk 12, most dramatically during the dark period (approximately 20% of baseline activity). During ad libitum feeding (wk 12 to 24), food intake, BW, body fat percentage, and total fat mass were greatly increased (P < 0.05). Compared with wk 0, circulating leptin concentrations tended to increase (P < 0.10) by wk 18 and 24 (4.45 vs. 10.02 and 9.14 ng/mL, respectively), whereas glucose (91 vs. 162 mg/dL) and triacylglyceride (30 vs. 48 mg/dL) concentrations were increased (P < 0.05) by wk 24. Adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase, hormone sensitive lipase, and adiponectin mRNA were decreased (P < 0.05) at wk 24. Adipose interleukin-6 mRNA was increased (P < 0.05) at 24 wk. Physical activity was further decreased (P < 0.05) by wk 24, during the light (60% of base-line) and dark (33% of baseline) periods. In summary, spaying and food restriction affect physical activity levels and several genes associated with lipid metabolism (decreased lipoprotein lipase), food intake (decreased leptin expression), and insulin insensitivity (increased interleukin-6). By identifying these changes, targets for nutritional intervention or lifestyle management have been identified that may curb the risk of obesity and related disorders in spayed cats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-602
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Adipose tissue
  • Body composition
  • Cat
  • Gene expression
  • Ovariohysterectomy
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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