This study seeks to establish the normal serum concentrations of biochemical markers related to nutrition, inflammation and disease, and to investigate how the levels change with age and diet in the rat. To this end, we fed rats from weaning on three diets differing in their protein, carbohydrate and fatty acid content. The diets consisted of a control, nutritionally balanced diet, this same diet supplemented with 10% (wt/wt) beef tallow, and a diet that was high in fat and carbohydrate and low in protein. Blood samples from rats at two different ages, 3 months and 12 months, were then analysed. In control rats, with advancing age there was a general decrease in potassium, iron and serum albumin concentrations and in the activities of aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase, and an increase in total and HDL cholesterol. These changes were modulated by diet: many of the age-related changes (serum concentrations of potassium, iron and cholesterol, and liver enzyme activities) were not observed in animals eating the high fat diet. In contrast, the high carbohydrate, high fat, low protein diet-fed animals showed several additional changes (serum concentrations of sodium, urea, creatinine and TG, and activity of alkaline phosphatase) that can be related to kidney, liver and cardiovascular health
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