Document Type


Publication Date

October 2019

Publication Title

Physiological Reports



Issue Number





Diet‐induced obesity, electrophysiology, Hoffmann’s reflex, rate dependent depression


Biology | Life Sciences


Obesity is associated with balance and motor control deficits. We have recently shown that Group Ia muscle spindle afferents, the sensory arm of the muscle stretch reflex, are less responsive in mice fed a high-fat diet. Here we test the hypothesis that reflex excitability to sensory information from Group Ia muscle spindle afferents is altered in a mouse model of diet-induced obesity. We measured the anesthetized Hoffmann’s or H-reflex, the electrical analog of the muscle stretch reflex. Adult mice of both sexes were fed a control diet (CD; 10% kcal from fat) or a high-fat diet (HFD; 60% kcal from fat) for 5, 10, or 15 weeks. We used three quantitative measures of H-reflex excitability: (1) H-reflex latency; (2) the percentage of motor neurons recruited from electrical stimulation of Group Ia muscle spindle afferents (Hmax/Mmax); and (3) rate-dependent depression (RDD), the decrease in H-reflex amplitude to high frequency stimulation (20 stimuli at 5 Hz). A HFD did not significantly alter H latency (P = 0.16) or Hmax/Mmax ratios (P = 0.06), but RDD was significantly lower in HFD compared to CD groups (P < 0.001). Interestingly, HFD males exhibited decreased RDD compared to controls only after 5 and 10 weeks of feeding, but females showed progressive decreases in RDD that were only significant at 10 and 15 weeks on the HFD. These results suggest that high-fat feeding increases H-reflex excitability. Future studies are needed to determine whether these changes alter muscle stretch reflex strength and/or balance and to determine the underlying mechanism(s).


© 2019 The Authors. This article appears in Physiological Reports, volume 7, issue 20, 2019, published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of The Physiological Society and the American Physiological Society. The article can be found online by following this link:
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