Hippocampal proteomics and primary cell cultures demonstrate proteins key in neuronal plasticity are rapidly changed in rodents on a high-fat diet

Fiona Hamilton McLean, Fiona Margaret Campbell, Rosamund Langston, Lynda Williams

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The rise in global obesity and related diseases, such as age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, underlines the importance of understanding how nutrition can negatively impact human health, particularly cognition. Thus, the aim of this study was to identify changes in the hippocampus in a well-defined model of diet-induced obesity, the C57Bl/6 mouse on a high-fat diet (HFD). This follows on from our earlier study where hippocampal-dependent episodic memory was shown to be rapidly compromised by a HFD. To this end we fed mice a HFD for either 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, or 1 week HFD followed by 1 week low-fat diet (LFD). Proteomic analysis of mouse hippocampi identified altered expression patterns of proteins involved in metabolism, inflammation, cell stress, cell signalling, and the cytoskeleton which changed after only 3 days on a HFD and recovered rapidly on the LFD. The largest number of proteins changed were associated with the cytoskeleton including microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP2). Further experiments were carried out in hippocampal primary cell cultures immuno-stained for MAP2. Incubation of neurons with physiological levels of palmitic acid (PA), the most common long-chain saturated fatty acid in the diet, caused reduced dendritic length and arborisation. However the n-3 polyunsaturated fat, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), had no effect and DHA in combination with PA negated the effects caused by PA. Hippocampal neurons treated with PA recovered rapidly when PA was removed. Dendrites are essential for cell communication, with dendritic spines forming the majority of post-synaptic sites, and are essential for neuronal plasticity. This study links diets high in saturated fats to indices of hippocampal neuronal damage and has implications for the link between diet, obesity and cognitive decline.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018
Eventonference: Society for Neuroscience 2018: 129. Brain Wellness and Aging: Metabolism, Oxidative Stress, and Cellular Mechanisms - San Diego, California, US, San Diego, UNITED STATES
Duration: 4 Nov 20184 Apr 2019


Conferenceonference: Society for Neuroscience 2018
Country/TerritoryUNITED STATES
CitySan Diego


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