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Sara Larsson

Research engineer

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Neurochemical Modifications in the Hippocampus, Cortex and Hypothalamus of Mice Exposed to Long-Term High-Fat Diet


  • Blanca Lizarbe
  • Ana F Soares
  • Sara Larsson
  • João M N Duarte

Summary, in English

Metabolic syndrome and diabetes impact brain function and metabolism. While it is well established that rodents exposed to diets rich in saturated fat develop brain dysfunction, contrasting results abound in the literature, likely as result of exposure to different high-fat diet (HFD) compositions and for varied periods of time. In the present study, we investigated alterations of hippocampal-dependent spatial memory by measuring Y-maze spontaneous alternation, metabolic profiles of the hippocampus, cortex and hypothalamus by 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), and levels of proteins specific to synaptic and glial compartments in mice exposed for 6 months to different amounts of fat (10, 45, or 60% of total energy intake). Increasing the dietary amount of fat from 10 to 45% or 60% resulted in obesity accompanied by increased leptin, fasting blood glucose and insulin, and reduced glucose tolerance. In comparison to controls (10%-fat), only mice fed the 60%-fat diet showed increased fed glycemia, as well as plasma corticosterone that has a major impact on brain function. HFD-induced metabolic profile modifications measured by 1H MRS were observed across the three brain areas in mice exposed to 60%- but not 45%-fat diet, while both HFD groups displayed impaired hippocampal-dependent memory. HFD also affected systems involved in neuro- or gliotransmission in the hippocampus. Namely, relative to controls, 60%-fat-fed mice showed reduced SNAP-25, PSD-95 and syntaxin-4 immunoreactivity, while 45%-fat-fed mice showed reduced gephyrin and syntaxin-4 immunoreactivity. For both HFD levels, reductions of the vesicular glutamate transporter vGlut1 and levels of the vesicular GABA transporter were observed in the hippocampus and hypothalamus, relative to controls. Immunoreactivity against GFAP and/or Iba-1 in the hypothalamus was higher in mice exposed to HFD than controls, suggesting occurrence of gliosis. We conclude that different levels of dietary fat result in distinct neurochemical alterations in the brain.


  • Diabetes and Brain Function
  • EXODIAB: Excellence of Diabetes Research in Sweden
  • Molecular Endocrinology
  • WCMM-Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine

Publishing year





Frontiers in Neuroscience



Document type

Journal article


Frontiers Media S. A.


  • Endocrinology and Diabetes



Research group

  • Diabetes and Brain Function
  • Molecular Endocrinology


  • ISSN: 1662-4548