All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Stephen A Watts

Advisory Committee Members

Barbara A Gower

Louis R D'Abramo

Daniel L Smith, Jr

Peggy R Biga

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences


Obesity is a disease that encompasses the interaction of both genetics and life-style factors, and the pathology behind its development remains unclear. Specifically, defining the influence of dietary lipid intake on adiposity and metabolic health continues to be a fundamental challenge, and the use of animal models will be required to gain a full understanding of the processes contributing to diet-induced obesity in humans. The zebrafish Danio rerio has emerged as a powerful model system to study diet-induced obesity and metabolic disease in humans, while simultaneously offering multiple advantages over rodent models. This dissertation addresses multiple aspects regarding the use of zebrafish as a model for diet-induced obesity. In Chapter 1, the effects of varying amounts of total dietary lipid and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LC-PUFA) content on weight gain, body composition, and reproductive success are investigated in juvenile zebrafish. Chapter 2 compares the influences of varying sources and amounts of dietary saturated fat on weight gain and body composition in adult zebrafish. Chapter 3 explores differences in fat mass accumulation rates between male and female zebrafish from the LC-PUFA study. Chapter 4 validates the use of quantitative magnetic resonance (QMR) as a non-invasive technique to measure fat and lean mass in zebrafish. The final chapter promotes diet standardization in zebrafish research by comparing differences in growth metrics, body composition, and reproduction among five commercial diets highly utilized in zebrafish laboratories along with a formulated reference diet. The high prevalence of obesity can present a significant impact on public health, given that it is a significant risk factor for the development of other metabolic diseases. My Ph.D. research supports the utility of zebrafish to study the in-dependent and interactive influences of sex and dietary lipid intake on adiposity and obesity in humans, while also addressing limitations associated with the use of this model system. This research represents an important contribution for the translational research community by providing information that reinforces and promotes the use of the zebrafish model system, while also generating new hypotheses regarding the development of diet-induced obesity in humans.



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