Protein preference and elevated plasma FGF21 induced by dietary protein restriction is similar in both male and female mice
Animals that are moderately protein restricted respond to this dietary stress by increasing consumption of protein-containing foods. This is true in many species, including rodents. Rodent models of protein restriction have typically relied on only male subjects, and there are plausible reasons why female rodents may respond differently to dietary protein restriction. To address this gap in knowledge, the current experiments examined protein preference after two weeks on a 5% protein diet or 20% protein control diet, in male and female mice. We found that female protein-restricted mice, like male protein-restricted mice, increase consumption of 4% casein (protein) relative to 4% maltodextrin (carbohydrate) when presented with both simultaneously. Interestingly, this increased consumption was due to more bursts in females and more licks per burst in males, indicating possible differences in mechanism by which increased intake is achieved. Stage of the estrous cycle did not affect female responses. Moreover, we measured plasma fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) – a hormone induced by protein restriction and necessary for protein preference – in male and female mice. Here, we found no statistical differences between protein-restricted males, females in diestrus, or females in proestrus. In non-restricted mice FGF21 levels were low, but significantly higher in females in proestrus than females in diestrus or males. Overall, these experiments highlight the importance of including female subjects in studies of food choice and macronutrient restriction.
CitationVolcko, McCutcheon. Protein preference and elevated plasma FGF21 induced by dietary protein restriction is similar in both male and female mice. Physiology and Behavior. 2022
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