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As the global population ages, and rates of dementia rise, understanding lifestyle factors that play a role in the development and acceleration of cognitive decline is vital to creating therapies and recommendations to improve quality of later life. Obesity has been shown to increase risk for dementia. However, the specific mechanisms for obesity-induced cognitive decline remain unclear. One potential contributor to diet-induced cognitive changes is neuroinflammation. Furthermore, a source of diet-induced inflammation to potentially increase neuroinflammation is via gut dysbiosis. We hypothesized that a high fat diet would cause gut microbe dysbiosis, and subsequently: neuroinflammation and cognitive decline. Using 7-month old male Sprague Dawley rats, this study examined whether 8 weeks on a high fat diet could impact performance on the water radial arm maze, gut microbe diversity and abundance, and microgliosis. We found that a high fat diet altered gut microbe populations compared to a low fat, control diet. However, we did not observe any significant differences between dietary groups on maze performance (a measure of spatial working memory) or microgliosis. Our data reveal a significant change to the gut microbiome without subsequent effects to neuroinflammation (as measured by microglia characterization and counts in the cortex, hippocampus, and hypothalamus) or cognitive performance under the parameters of our study. However, future studies that explore duration of the diet, composition of the diet, age of animal model, and strain of animal model, must be explored.
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Deshpande NG, Saxena J, Pesaresi TG, Carrell CD, Ashby GB, Liao MK, Freeman LR. High fat diet alters gut microbiota but not spatial working memory in early middle-aged Sprague Dawley rats. PLoS One. 2019 May 29;14(5):e0217553. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0217553