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Background and Objective: Animal studies can be a great tool to investigate sex differences in a variety of different ways, including behavioral and physiological responses to drug treatments and different “lifestyle variables” such as diets. Consumption of both high-fat diets and alcohol is known to affect anxiety behaviors and overall health. This project investigated how high-fat diet and alcohol access and its combination affected the behavior and physiology of male and female C57BL/6J mice.

Method: Mice were separated into three food groups: high-fat diet, 10% fat diet, and regular chow, and each group was paired with either water or 10% alcohol. Behavioral assays included diet and alcohol preference, light-dark box, open field, and feeding and drinking measurements. Physiological measures included glucose tolerance tests and measurement of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, insulin, and leptin levels.

Results: Females and males differed in the open field, as male mice decreased activity, while females increased activity when consuming high-fat diet. While females consumed more ethanol than males, alcohol consumption was able to improve glucose tolerance and increase anxiety in both sexes. Lastly, females were more resistant to the physiological changes caused by high-fat diet than males, as females consuming high-fat diet exhibited decreased insulin secretion, less change to brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels, and better glucose tolerance than males consuming high-fat diet.

Conclusion: These results suggest that the response to high-fat diet and alcohol consumption is sex dependent and that males are more affected both behaviorally and physiologically by high-fat diet compared to females.

Original Citation

Gelineau, R.R., Arruda, N.L., Hicks, J.A., Monteiro De Pina, I., Hatzidis, A., & Seggio, J.A. (2017). The Behavioral and Physiological Effects of High-fat Diet and Alcohol Consumption: Sex Differences in C57BL6/J Mice. Brain and Behavior, 7(6), e00708.


This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

© 2017 The Authors. Brain and Behavior published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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