The cheap, readily available and highly processed food that we consume so much of is bad for us. An interesting new study in mice has supported the longstanding hypothesis that diets high in fat and sugar are linked to cognitive declines such as Alzheimer’s disease.
“Obesity and diabetes weaken the central nervous system, exacerbating psychiatric disorders and cognitive decline. We showed this in our mice study,” says University of South Australia neuroscientist and biochemist Larisa Bobrovskaya.
The team was looking for a mouse model that could tell us more about the intersection between Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity, and boy did they find it.
“Chronic obesity and type 2 diabetes are known to be often associated with Alzheimer’s disease, along with many other comorbidities, including cardiovascular disease and renal impairment,” the team wrote in their new research paper.
“Furthermore, obesity and type 2 diabetes are increasingly associated with impaired central nervous system function, by exacerbating psychiatric and cognitive disorders, including mood disorders, cognitive decline and dementia.”
In a world where incorrectly eating “bad” food is already seen as a moral failure, this type of outcome is unlikely to help anyone with better eating habits, but it is able to provide us with more tools to be able to investigate this perplexing link, Which the team wanted to look at further in mice.
To learn more, the team looked at adult mice with a mutation in the human tau protein (P301L) called pR5 mice, along with control mice (known as wild type).
In humans, the mutation has been associated with a dysfunction that directly causes the type of neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Likewise in mice, the genes provide researchers with a way to pinpoint the mechanisms that link dementia to other conditions, such as diabetes, with precision.
Both groups were fed either a regular diet or a high-fat diet for 30 weeks. Given that lab mice live for about 1.5 years, this is a very decent part of their life.
Control mice fed a high-fat diet while being overweight, were at increased risk of displaying anxiety-like behaviors, and showed higher levels of tau in the brain. Tau is important because it is a protein that can turn into ‘tangle tau’, a biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease.
For mice with the pR5 mutation fed a high-fat diet, there were more problems. They were more likely to be obese, developed glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, had more depression and anxiety-like behaviors, and their brains showed more tau in the form that causes Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our results show that a high-fat diet facilitates the development of peripheral insulin resistance and increases cognitive behavioral changes and tau pathology in pR5 transgenic mice,” the researchers wrote.
“A possible consequence of the pathological changes induced by the high-fat diet is ultimately the exacerbation of cognitive deficits in these mice.”
This may sound a little worrisome for the 42 percent of American adults who are obese, or the 37 million Americans with type 2 diabetes, but understanding these factors—particularly using new mouse models—is useful for scientists to uncover new treatments or recommend With science. Supported changes.
“Our findings underscore the importance of addressing the global obesity epidemic. A combination of obesity, age and diabetes is very likely to lead to deterioration in cognitive abilities, Alzheimer’s disease and other mental health disorders,” says Pobrovskaya.
The search was published in Metabolic brain disease.
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