European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 1393–1404 | Cite as

Neonatal overfeeding causes higher adrenal catecholamine content and basal secretion and liver dysfunction in adult rats

  • E. P. S. Conceição
  • E. G. Moura
  • I. H. Trevenzoli
  • N. Peixoto-Silva
  • C. R. Pinheiro
  • V. Younes-Rapozo
  • E. Oliveira
  • P. C. Lisboa
Original Contribution



Rats that are overfed during lactation exhibit neonatal hyperleptinemia and higher visceral adiposity, hypertension, higher liver oxidative stress and insulin resistance in the liver as adults. Previously, we demonstrated that neonatal hyperleptinemia is associated with adrenal medullary hyperfunction, hypertension and liver steatosis in adulthood. Therefore, we hypothesised that adrenal and liver functions are altered in adult obese rats that were overfed during lactation, which would underlie their hypertension and liver alterations.


The litter size was reduced from ten to three male pups on the third day of lactation until weaning (SL) to induce early overfeeding in Wistar rats. The control group had ten rats per litter (NL). Rats had free access to standard diet, and water after weaning until the rats were 180 days old.


The SL group exhibited higher adrenal catecholamine content (absolute: +35% and relative: +40%), tyrosine hydroxylase (+31%) and DOPA decarboxylase (+90%) protein contents and basal catecholamine secretion in vitro (+57%). However, the hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortex axis were unchanged. β3-adrenergic receptor content in visceral adipose tissue was unchanged in SL rats, but the β2-adrenergic receptor content in the liver was lower in this group (−45%). The SL group exhibited higher glycogen and triglycerides contents in the liver (+79 and +49%, respectively), which suggested microesteatosis.


Neonatal overfeeding led to higher adrenomedullary function, but the liver β2-adrenergic receptor content was reduced. These results may contribute to the hepatic dysfunction characteristic of liver obesity complications.


Catecholamine Corticosterone Adrenergic receptor Glycogen Rat 



This research was supported by the “National Council for Scientific and Technological Development” (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico-CNPq), the “Carlos Chagas Filho Research Foundation of the State of Rio de Janeiro” (Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro-FAPERJ), Coordination for the Enhancement of Higher Education Personnel (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior–CAPES). EPSC was recipient of FAPERJ fellowship. CRP was recipient of CNPq fellowship. NPS, VYR and EO were recipient of CAPES fellowship.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. P. S. Conceição
    • 1
  • E. G. Moura
    • 1
  • I. H. Trevenzoli
    • 2
  • N. Peixoto-Silva
    • 1
  • C. R. Pinheiro
    • 1
  • V. Younes-Rapozo
    • 1
  • E. Oliveira
    • 1
  • P. C. Lisboa
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of Endocrine Physiology, Roberto Alcantara Gomes Biology InstituteState University of Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology, Carlos Chagas Filho Biophysics InstituteFederal University of Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Ciências Fisiológicas, Instituto de BiologiaUniversidade do Estado do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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