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Impact of an obesogenic diet program on bone densitometry, micro architecture and metabolism in male rat

Maude Gerbaix1*, Lore Metz1, Fabrice Mac-Way23, Cédric Lavet12, Christelle Guillet4, Stéphane Walrand4, Aurélie Masgrau4, Marie-Thérèse Linossier2, Laurence Vico2 and Daniel Courteix1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratoire des Adaptations Métaboliques à l’Exercice en conditions Physiologiques et Pathologiques (AME2P), Clermont Université, Université Blaise Pascal, EA 3533, BP 80026, F-63171, Aubière Cedex, France

2 Laboratoire de Biologie Intégrative du Tissu Osseux, Inserm U1059, Université de Lyon, 42023 cedex, Saint-Etienne, France

3 Centre de recherche du CHUQ, L’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

4 INRA, UMR 1019, CRNH Auvergne, F-63000, Clermont-Ferrand, France

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2012, 11:91  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-11-91

Published: 10 July 2012



The relationships between fat mass and bone tissue are complex and not fully elucidated. A high-fat/high-sucrose diet has been shown to induce harmful effects on bone micro architecture and bone biomechanics of rat. When such diet leads to obesity, it may induce an improvement of biomechanical bone parameters in rodent.

Here, we examined the impact of a high-fat/high-sucrose diet on the body composition and its resulting effects on bone density and structure in male rats. Forty three Wistar rats aged 7 months were split into 3 groups: 1 sacrificed before diet (BD, n = 14); 1 subjected to 16 weeks of high-fat/high-sucrose diet (HF/HS, n = 14); 1 subjected to standard diet (Control, n = 15). Abdominal circumference and insulin sensitivity were measured and visceral fat mass was weighed. The bone mineral density (BMD) was analyzed at the whole body and tibia by densitometry. Microcomputed tomography and histomorphometric analysis were performed at L2 vertebrae and tibia to study the trabecular and cortical bone structures and the bone cell activities. Osteocalcin and CTX levels were performed to assess the relative balance of the bone formation and resorption. Differences between groups have been tested with an ANOVA with subsequent Scheffe post-hoc test. An ANCOVA with global mass and global fat as covariates was used to determine the potential implication of the resulting mechanical loading on bone.


The HF/HS group had higher body mass, fat masses and abdominal circumference and developed an impaired glucose tolerance (p < 0.001). Whole body bone mass (p < 0.001) and BMD (p < 0.05) were higher in HF/HS group vs. Control group. The trabecular thickness at vertebrae and the cortical porosity of tibia were improved (p < 0.05) in HF/HS group. Bone formation was predominant in HF/HS group while an unbalance bone favoring bone resorption was observed in the controls. The HF/HS and Control groups had higher total and abdominal fat masses and altered bone parameters vs. BD group.


The HF/HS diet had induced obesity and impaired glucose tolerance. These changes resulted in an improvement of quantitative, qualitative and metabolic bone parameters. The fat mass increase partly explained these observations.