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The induction of obesity in rodents by means of monosodium glutamate

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 March 2008

J. Bunyan
Beecham Pharmaceuticals, Research Division, Brockham Park, Betchworth, Surrey RH3 7AJ
Elspeth A. Murrell
Beecham Pharmaceuticals, Research Division, Brockham Park, Betchworth, Surrey RH3 7AJ
P. P. Shah
Beecham Pharmaceuticals, Research Division, Brockham Park, Betchworth, Surrey RH3 7AJ
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1. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) was administered by various methods to mice and rats of various ages and the incidence of obesity was later measured.

2. Newborn mice were injected subcutaneously with 3 mg MSG/g body-weight at 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 d of age; 16% died before weaning. Of the survivors, 90% or more became markedly obese. Mean carcass lipid content was increased by about 120% in both sexes at 20–30 weeks of age. In male mice, MSG treatment increased body-weight and epididymal fat pad weight, and greatly decreased adrenaline-stimulated lipolysis in isolated fat cells. Body-weight of females was not increased significantly. Food intake was not increased in either sex from weeks 13 to 15. Blood glucose level was not generally increased by MSG but some of the male mice had abnormally high values.

3. Obesity was not detected in the offspring of female mice that had received 100 g MSG/kg diet, either from 3 weeks before mating until weaning, or from the 14th day of pregnancy until weaning.

4. Intraperitoneal injection of 10 mg MSG/g body-weight (in two doses) at weaning increased carcass lipid content in female mice by 34% by 23 weeks of age, but female rats were not affected.

5. The addition of 20 g MSG/l to the drinking-water from weaning onwards did not increase carcass lipid content in female rats or mice.

6. The addition of 20 g MSG/kg diet from weaning onwards did not alter body-weight or carcass lipid content in male and female rats by 14 weeks of age.

7. The obesity induced in mice by MSG was not associated with hyperphagia, unlike genetic obesity and obesity induced by gold thioglucose (GTG).

8. All types of mouse studied, obese and lean, had essentially the same linear relationship between carcass water content and carcass lipid content.

9. Although MSG-obese mice could not readily be differentiated from normal mice by the increase in body-weight, which was only about 10% compared to 50–120% for genetic and GTG-induced obesity, the proposed schedule of injections in the newborn was almost 100% reliable in inducing a high extent of adiposity.

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