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Open Access Research

Cereal based diets modulate some markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in lean and obese Zucker rats

Damien P Belobrajdic12*, Yan Y Lam34, Mark Mano2, Gary A Wittert4 and Anthony R Bird12

Author Affiliations

1 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Food Futures Flagship, Adelaide, 5000, Australia

2 CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, Adelaide, 5000, Australia

3 Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition & Exercise, University of Sydney, Sydney, 2000, Australia

4 Discipline of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, 5000, Australia

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2011, 8:27  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-8-27

Published: 3 May 2011



The potential of cereals with high antioxidant capacity for reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in obesity is unknown. This study investigated the impact of wheat bran, barley or a control diet (α-cellulose) on the development of oxidative stress and inflammation in lean and obese Zucker rats.


Seven wk old, lean and obese male Zucker rats (n = 8/group) were fed diets that contained wheat bran, barley or α-cellulose (control). After 3 months on these diets, systolic blood pressure was measured and plasma was analysed for glucose, insulin, lipids, oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), malondialdehyde, glutathione peroxidase and adipokine concentration (leptin, adiponectin, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, TNFα, plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1, monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1). Adipokine secretion rates from visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue explants were also determined.


Obese rats had higher body weight, systolic blood pressure and fasting blood lipids, glucose, insulin, leptin and IL-1β in comparison to lean rats, and these measures were not reduced by consumption of wheat bran or barley based diets. Serum ORAC tended to be higher in obese rats fed wheat bran and barley in comparison to control (p = 0.06). Obese rats had higher plasma malondialdehyde (p < 0.01) and lower plasma glutathione peroxidase concentration (p < 0.01) but these levels were not affected by diet type. PAI-1 was elevated in the plasma of obese rats, and the wheat bran diet in comparison to the control group reduced PAI-1 to levels seen in the lean rats (p < 0.05). These changes in circulating PAI-1 levels could not be explained by PAI-1 secretion rates from visceral or subcutaneous adipose tissue.


A 3-month dietary intervention was sufficient for Zucker obese rats to develop oxidative stress and systemic inflammation. Cereal-based diets with moderate and high antioxidant capacity elicited modest improvements in indices of oxidative stress and inflammation.