Quercetin as a prophylactic against adverse health outcomes associated with high dietary fructose post-weaning in Sprague Dawley rats

Tladi, Ramatsobane Rozette
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The global increase in fructose consumption has increased the prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Events affecting metabolism in early life have long-lasting implications on health outcomes later in life. Thus, the developmentally plastic early life stages are potential targets for interventions with long term health benefits. The prophylactic potential of the phytochemical quercetin administered during the early post-weaning period, on the development of metabolic derangements and NAFLD in Sprague Dawley rats, fed a high fructose diet for eight weeks post-weaning was investigated. Rats (N = 64; 21 days old) were randomly divided into four treatment groups n = 16 (8 males and 8 females): Group 1-standard rat chow (SRC), tap water, plain gelatine cubes; Group 2- SRC, tap water, gelatine cubes containing quercetin (100 mg/kg body mass); Group 3- SRC, 20 % fructose drinking solution (FS), plain gelatine cubes; Group 4- SRC, 20 % FS, gelatine cubes containing quercetin (100 mg/kg body mass). Rats received treatments for two weeks, after which they continued on their respective diets without gelatine cubes for six weeks. Tissue and blood samples were then collected and analysed for fructose induced metabolic derangements. Male rats fed fructose had significantly shorter and lighter tibia and femora compared to those in the control group (p < 0.05). Although no statistically significant differences (p>0.05) in the overall hepatic steatosis scores were observed between groups in male and female rats, a greater percentage of male rats fed a high fructose diet presented with steatosis. There was also an increased percentage of female rats with steatosis after being fed quercetin alone. Furthermore, there were no significant changes in liver function markers, adiposity, circulating metabolites, lipoprotein profile and clinical markers of general health (p > 0.05). Despite the experimental model not resulting in overt metabolic dysfunction, the sexually dimorphic susceptibility to the development of hepatic steatosis and the impact of early post-weaning quercetin, should be further explored
A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Medicine to the Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Physiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2020