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A novel automated system yields reproducible temporal feeding patterns in laboratory rodents

Tilston, Thomas W, Brown, Richard D, Wateridge, Matthew J, Arms-Williams, Bradley, Walker, Jamie J, Sun, Yuxiang and Wells, Timothy ORCID: 2019. A novel automated system yields reproducible temporal feeding patterns in laboratory rodents. Journal of Nutrition 149 (9) , pp. 1674-1684. 10.1093/jn/nxz116

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Background The impact of temporal feeding patterns remains a major unanswered question in nutritional science. Progress has been hampered by the absence of a reliable method to impose temporal feeding in laboratory rodents, without the confounding influence of food-hoarding behavior. Objective The aim of this study was to develop and validate a reliable method for supplying crushed diets to laboratory rodents in consistent, relevant feeding patterns for prolonged periods. Methods We programmed our experimental feeding station to deliver a standard diet [StD; Atwater Fuel Energy (AFE) 13.9% fat] or high-fat diet (HFD; AFE 45% fat) during nocturnal grazing [providing 1/24th of the total daily food intake (tdF/I) of ad libitum–fed controls every 30 min] and meal-fed (3 × 1-h periods of ad libitum feeding) patterns in male rats (Sprague-Dawley: 4 wk old, 72–119 g) and mice [C57/Bl6J wild-type (WT): 6 mo old, 29–37 g], and ghrelin-null littermates (Ghr−/−; 27–34 g). Results Grazing yielded accurate, consistent feeding events in rats, with an approximately linear rise in nocturnal cumulative food intake [tdF/I (StD): 97.4 ± 1.5% accurate compared with manual measurement; R2 = 0.86; tdF/I (HFD): 99.0 ± 1.4% accurate; R2 = 0.86]. Meal-feeding produced 3 nocturnal meals of equal size and duration in StD-fed rats (tdF/I: 97.4 ± 0.9% accurate; R2 = 0.90), whereas the second meal size increased progressively in HFD-fed rats (44% higher on day 35 than on day 14; P < 0.01). Importantly, cumulative food intake in grazing and meal-fed rats was identical. Similar results were obtained in WT mice except that less restricted grazing induced hyperphagia (compared with meal-fed WT mice; P < 0.05 from day 1). This difference was abolished in Ghr−/− mice, with meal initiation delayed and meal duration enhanced. Neither pattern elevated corticosterone secretion in rats, but meal-feeding aligned ultradian pulses. Conclusions We have established a consistent, measurable, researcher-defined, stress-free method for imposing temporal feeding patterns in rats and mice. This approach will facilitate progress in understanding the physiologic impact of feeding patterns.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: American Society for Nutrition
ISSN: 0022-3166
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 July 2019
Date of Acceptance: 7 July 2019
Last Modified: 13 May 2023 12:56

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