American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism vol:300 issue:6 pages:E1103-E1111
Ghrelin, known to stimulate adipogenesis, displays an endogenous secretory rhythmicity closely related to meal patterns. Therefore, a chronic imposed feeding schedule might induce modified ghrelin levels and consequently adiposity. Growing Wistar rats were schedule-fed by imposing a particular fixed feeding schedule of 3 meals/day without caloric restriction compared with total daily control intake. After 14 days, their body composition was measured by DEXA and compared with ad libitum-fed controls and to rats daily intraperitoneal injection with ghrelin. Feeding patterns, circadian activity, and pulsatile acylated ghrelin variations were monitored. After 14 days, rats on the imposed feeding schedule displayed, despite an equal daily calorie intake, a slower growth rate compared with ad libitum-fed controls. Moreover, schedule-fed rats exhibiting a feeding pattern with intermittent fasting periods had a higher fat/lean ratio compared with ad libitum-fed controls. Interestingly, ghrelin-treated rats also showed an increase in fat mass, but the fat/lean ratio was not significantly increased compared with controls. In the schedule-fed rats, spontaneous activity and acylated ghrelin levels were increased and associated with the scheduled meals, indicating anticipatory effects. Our results suggest that scheduled feeding, associated with intermittent fasting periods, even without nutrient/calorie restriction on a daily basis, results in adipogenesis. This repartitioning effect is associated with increased endogenous acylated ghrelin levels. This schedule-fed model points out the delicate role of meal frequency in adipogenesis and provides an investigative tool to clarify any effects of endogenous ghrelin without the need for ghrelin administration.