Highly palatable food access during adolescence increased anxiety-/depression-like behaviors in male, but not in female, rats (2017)

Nutr Neurosci. 2017 Apr 11:1-9. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2017.1313583.

Kim JY1, Kim D1,2, Park K3, Lee JH1, Jahng JW1.



This study was conducted to examine the sexual dimorphic effects of highly palatable food (HPF) access during adolescence on the neurochemistry and depression-/anxiety-like behaviors of rats.


Male and female Sprague-Dawley pups had free access to chocolate cookie rich in fat (HPF) from postnatal day 28 in addition to ad libitum chow, and the control groups received only chow. The food conditions were continued throughout the entire experimental period, and the neurochemical and behavioral measurements were performed during young adulthood. Rats were subjected to the ambulatory activity, elevated plus maze, and forced swim tests. Corticosterone levels during 2 h of restraint stress were analyzed with radioimmunoassay, and ΔFosB and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) with Western blot analysis.


Cookie access did not affect body weight gain and total caloric intake in both sexes; however, it increased retroperitoneal fat depot only in males. The time spent in open arms during elevated plus maze test was decreased and immobility during forced swim test was increased in cookie-fed males, but not in cookie-fed females. Main effect of food condition on the stress-induced corticosterone increase was observed in males, but not in females, and cookie access increased BDNF expression in the NAc only in males.


Increased BDNF expression in the NAc and fat depot, in addition to the stress axis dysfunction, may play roles in the pathophysiology of depression- and/or anxiety-like behaviors induced by cookie access.

KEYWORDS: Corticosterone; Food intake; Nucleus accumbens; Stress

PMID: 28399791

DOI: 10.1080/1028415X.2017.1313583