Exogenous insulin treatment has been shown to improve food intake and host weight of cachectic tumor-bearing (TB) rats, but the composition of the host weight gain has not been quantitated. Sixty-six Fischer 344 rats were randomized to seven groups: early nontumor-bearing (NTB) (n = 10) who underwent compositional analysis (CA) on the day the methylcholanthrene sarcoma was implanted in TB rats; pretreatment-NTB (n = 10) and pretreatment-TB (n = 10) who underwent CA 25 days later when rats began treatment with saline or insulin; and finally saline-treated NTB (n = 9), saline-treated TB (n = 9), insulin-treated NTB (n = 9), and insulin-treated TB (n = 9), who underwent CA following 5 days of treatment with daily saline or neutral protamine hagedorn insulin 2 units/100 g. Body weight and food intake were measured daily. For compositional analysis, the tumor was separated from the host in TB rats and the entire rat in NTB animals was homogenized, lyophilized and analyzed for fat, water, protein, potassium, chloride, and sodium. The tumor was processed in a similar fashion.

In response to insulin, NTB rats ate significantly more food, and had an increase in body weight gain. Compositional analysis of insulin-treated NTB rats indicated a slight, but insignificant, increase in body fat and a similar insignificant decrease in body protein. TB rats ate significantly less than NTB rats during the 5-day experimental period, and insulin treatment significantly increased food intake to levels similar to NTB animals. Compositional analysis indicated that the tumor-bearing state resulted in a significant decrease in total host water, protein, fat, potassium, sodium, and chloride. Insulin administration resulted in preservation of host nitrogen, fat, potassium, sodium, and chloride in cachectic tumor-bearing rats. Insulin treatment did not affect tumor dry weight or composition. The results suggest that exogenous insulin, can preserve normal host composition of TB rats during cachectic decline.

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