The impact of a high-fat diet in mice is dependent on duration and age, and differs between muscles

Messa Guy, Matthw Piasecki, Joshua Hurst, Cameron Hill, Jason Tallis, Hans Degens

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20 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Prolonged high-fat diets (HFD) can cause intramyocellular lipids (IMCL) accumulation that may negatively affect muscle function. We investigated the duration of a HFD required to instigate these changes, and whether effects are muscle-specific and aggravated in older age. Muscle morphology was determined in the soleus, extensor digitorum longus (EDL) and diaphragm muscles from female CD-1 mice divided into 5 groups: young fed a HFD for 8 weeks (YS-HFD, n=16), young fed a HFD for 16 weeks (YL-HFD, n=28) and young control (Y-CON, n=28). The young animals were 20 weeks old at the end of the experiment. Sixty 70-week-old female CD-1 mice received either a normal diet (O-CON, n=30) or a HFD for 9 weeks (OS-HFD, n=30). Body mass, body mass index and IMCL content increased in old OS-HFD (p≤0.003). In the young mice, this increase was seen in YL-HFD and not YS-HFD (p≤0.006). The soleus and diaphragm fibre cross-sectional area (FCSA) in YL-HFD was larger compared to Y-CON (p≤0.004) while old mice had a larger soleus FCSA compared to CON after only 9 weeks on a HFD (p<0.001). The FCSA of the EDL muscle did not differ significantly between groups. Oxidative capacity of fibres increased in young only, irrespective of HFD duration (p<0.001). High-fat diet-induced morphological changes occur earlier in the old animals when compared to young, and adaptations to HFD are muscle-specific with the EDL being least responsive.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb217117
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number6
Early online date27 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.


  • Capillarization
  • Capillary domains
  • Diaphragm
  • Intramyocellular lipid
  • Soleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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