A specific immunoassay of uncoupling protein (UCP) and measurement of GDP binding were used to study the chronic responses of brown adipose tissue (BAT) mitochondria from rats made obese by dietary means (cafeteria rats) and from obese rats subsequently fed a standard diet (post-cafeteria rats). We studied the response to fasting in order to assess the masking/unmasking responses in these groups. These studies have shown the following. (1) In the obese rats (cafeteria and post-cafeteria) the chronic increase in mitochondrial UCP concentration compared with controls parallels the increase in GDP binding. (2) In 24 h-fasted control rats the decrease in GDP binding is associated with a change in UCP concentration, but in fasting cafeteria and post-cafeteria obese rats the decrease in GDP binding is not associated with any change in UCP concentration. (3) Post-cafeteria obese rats showed increased GDP binding and higher UCP concentrations than the controls, but these values were less than in cafeteria obese rats. (4) Control rats at 8 months old showed greater GDP binding and had a higher UCP concentration than 11-month-old control rats. (5) The responses of GDP binding and UCP concentration to fasting in post-cafeteria obese rats were similar to those in cafeteria obese rats, suggesting that such abbreviations are related to the obese status itself rather than to the composition of the cafeteria diet. The evidence supports the hypothesis that the response of the cafeteria and post-cafeteria obese rats to fasting is associated with a masking of UCP, whereas with chronic manipulation of diet changes in UCP concentration predominate.

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