© 2017 Nguyen, Ali, Kosari, Woodman, Spencer, Killcross and Jenkins. Rats fed high fat diets have been shown to be impaired in hippocampal-dependent behavioral tasks, such as spatial recognition in the Y-maze and reference memory in the Morris water maze (MWM). It is clear from previous studies, however, that motivation and reward factor into the memory deficits associated with obesity and high-fat diet consumption, and that the prefrontal cortex and striatumand neurotransmitter dopamine play important roles in cognitive performance. In this series of studies we extend our research to investigate the effect of a high fat diet on striatal neurochemistry and performance in the delayed spatial win-shift radial arm maze task, a paradigm highly reliant on dopamine-rich brain regions, such as the striatum after high fat diet consumption. Memory performance, neuronal activation and brain dopaminergic levels were compared in rats fed a “Western” (21% fat, 0.15% cholesterol) chow diet compared to normal diet (6% fat, 0.15% cholesterol)-fed controls. Twelve weeks of dietary manipulation produced an increase in weight in western diet-fed rats, but did not affect learning and performance in the delayed spatial win-shift radial arm maze task. Concurrently, there was an observed decrease in dopamine levels in the striatum and a reduction of dopamine turnover in the hippocampus in western diet-fed rats. In a separate cohort of rats Fos levels were measured after rats had been placed in a novel arena and allowed to explore freely. In normal rats, this exposure to a unique environment did not affect neuronal activation. In contrast, rats fed a western diet were found to have significantly increased Fos expression in the striatum, but not prefrontal cortex or hippocampus. Our study demonstrates that while western diet consumption in rats produces weight gain and brain neuronal and neurotransmitter changes, it did not affect performance in the delayed spatial win-shift paradigm in the radial arm maze. We conclude that modeling the cognitive decline-obesity relationship is complex with considerations, of type of memory, behavioral task and dietary intervention (fat, fat and sugar, sugar, and cafeteria diets) all adding to our overall understanding.
Nguyen, J. C. D., Ali, S. F., Kosari, S., Woodman, O. L., Spencer, S. J., Killcross, A. S., & Jenkins, T. A. (2017). Western Diet Chow Consumption in Rats Induces Striatal Neuronal Activation While Reducing Dopamine Levels without Affecting Spatial Memory in the Radial Arm Maze. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2017.00022