Body fat of rats of different age groups and nutritional states: Assessment by micro-CT and skinfold thickness

Eva Tekus, Alexandra Miko, Nora Furedi, Ildiko Rostas, Judit Tenk, Tamas Kiss, Istvan Szitter, Marta Balasko, Zsuzsanna Helyes, Marta Wilhelm, Erika Petervari

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Obesity presents a growing public health problem. Therefore the analysis of body composition is important in clinical practice as well as in animal research models of obesity; hence precise methods for the assessment of body fat would be essential. We aimed to evaluate in vivo abdominal microcomputed tomography scan restricted to the L1-L3 region [micro-CT(L1-L3)], a skinfold thickness-based method (STM), and postmortem body composition analysis (PMA) with regard to whole body micro-CT scan in rats. Male Wistar rats of different age groups (from 3 to 24 mo) and nutritional states (normally fed, high-fat diet-induced obese, and calorie-restricted) were used. The fat percentage was determined with micro-CT(L1-L3) and whole body scan in anesthetized rats. Their skinfold thickness was measured in five locations with a Lange caliper. Wet weights of epididymal and retroperitoneal fat pads were determined via PMA. With regard to fat mass, the strongest correlation was observed between abdominal and whole body micro-CT. The other methods showed weaker associations with whole body micro-CT and with each other. Micro-CT(L1-L3) and PMA showed similar age-associated increase in fat mass between 3 and 18 mo. Micro-CT(L1-L3), STM, and PMA were efficient to detect differences in fat mass values in groups of different nutritional states. Micro-CT(L1-L3) appears to be a useful method for body fat assessment in rats with reduced scanning time. In rats, STM may also be a useful, low priced, noninvasive, and simple in vivo technique to assess obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-275
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018



  • Body fat
  • Micro-CT
  • Obesity
  • Rat
  • Skinfold thickness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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