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Age and sex as confounding factors in the relationship between cardiac mitochondrial function and type 2 diabetes in the Nile Grass rat

Jillian Schneider, Woo Hyun Han, Rebecca Matthew, Yves Sauvé, Sciprofile linkHélène Lemieux
Published: 21 February 2020
PLOS ONE , Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0228710

Abstract: Our study revisits the role of cardiac mitochondrial adjustments during the progression of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), while considering age and sex as potential confounding factors. We used the Nile Grass rats (NRs) as the animal model. After weaning, animals were fed either a Standard Rodent Chow Diet (SRCD group) or a Mazuri Chinchilla Diet (MCD group) consisting of high-fiber and low-fat content. Both males and females in the SRCD group, exhibited increased body mass, body mass index, and plasma insulin compared to the MCD group animals. However, the females were able to preserve their fasting blood glucose throughout the age range on both diets, while the males showed significant hyperglycemia starting at 6 months in the SRCD group. In the males, a higher citrate synthase activity—a marker of mitochondrial content—was measured at 2 months in the SRCD compared to the MCD group, and this was followed by a decline with age in the SRCD group only. In contrast, females preserved their mitochondrial content throughout the age range. In the males exclusively, the complex IV capacity expressed independently of mitochondrial content varied with age in a diet-specific pattern; the capacity was elevated at 2 months in the SRCD group, and at 6 months in the MCD group. In addition, females, but not males, were able to adjust their capacity to oxidize long-chain fatty acid in accordance with the fat content of the diet. Our results show clear sexual dimorphism in the variation of mitochondrial content and oxidative phosphorylation capacity with diet and age. The SRCD not only leads to T2DM but also exacerbates age-related cardiac mitochondrial defects. These observations, specific to male NRs, might reflect deleterious dietary-induced changes on their metabolism making them more prone to the cardiovascular consequences of aging and T2DM.
Keywords: Mouse models / Diet / mitochondria / insulin / Rats / Oxidation / fatty acids / grasses

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