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Vitamin C protects against chronic social isolation stress-induced weight gain and depressive-like behavior in adult male rats



Objective. Considering the importance of ghrelin in stress-induced hyperphagia and a role of antioxidants in decreasing body weight, in the present study, the effect of vitamin C (VitC) on ghrelin secretion and food intake following chronic social isolation (CIS) was evaluated in rats.

Methods. Thirty two male Wistar rats (200–220g) were randomly divided into: control, VitC, CIS, and CIS + VitC groups. Animals received VitC (500 mg/kg/day)/saline by gavage for 3 weeks. For 24 h cumulative and post 18–20 h fasting food intake, fasting plasma ghrelin level, and body weight were measured. Gastric histopathology was also evaluated.

Results. Results showed a marked increase in fasting plasma ghrelin and food intake in stressed rats compared to controls. VitC prevented the increases in stressed rats. Histological assessment indicated a positive effect of VitC on gastric glandular cells compared to control, an effect that might partially be a reason of significant increase of plasma ghrelin levels in VitC rats. Elevated plasma ghrelin in VitC group was even higher than that one in stressed group, whereas there were no significant changes in the food intake. Assessment of the percentage of changes in body weight during 21 days showed a significant increase in stressed rats compared to controls. Vitamin C treatment prevented this increase. Stressed rats also displayed depression-like behavior as indicated by sucrose test, whereas VitC ameliorated it.

Conclusions. The data of the present study indicate that VitC may overcome ghrelin-induced hyperphagia and improve the abnormal feeding and depressive behavior in CIS rats.