This study compared male and female rats in terms of metabolic and cognitive impairments produced by excessive intakes of 10% sucrose solution and in terms of recovery once access to sucrose ceased. The primary cognitive outcome was performance on a place recognition task. The primary metabolic outcome was retroperitoneal fat pad mass at cull, with body weight, glucose tolerance, and insulin and triglyceride levels as secondary outcomes. In a 3 x 2 between-subject factorial design over two stages the first factor was whether rats had unlimited access to a 10% sucrose solution and water throughout both stages (Suc-Suc), were switched from sucrose in the 8-week Stage 1 to water only in the 4-week Stage 2 (Suc-Water) or had no access to sucrose in either stage (Water-Water). The second factor was sex. All animals (n=10 per group) had unrestricted access to chow and water throughout.
At the end of Stage 1 place recognition was impaired in Suc-Suc and Suc-Water rats. At the end of Stage 2 place recognition was still impaired in Suc-Suc rats, while it had fully recovered in Suc-Water rats. Female Suc-Suc rats showed some recovery of place memory in Stage 2. The primary metabolic outcome, fat pad mass, revealed that, while switching from sucrose to water led to recovery in females, male fat pads in the Suc-Water group did not differ from those in the Suc-Suc group. In conclusion, despite females drinking more sucrose relative to body weight than males, the main sex difference detected in terms of impact of excessive sucrose and recovery when sucrose was withdrawn was persistence of adiposity in males but not in females.