Vascular changes in rat hippocampus following a high saturated fat and cholesterol diet.J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 2012; 32(4):643-53JC
The long-term effects of a diet rich in saturated fat and cholesterol on the hippocampus were evaluated in this study. It has previously been shown that this type of diet is detrimental to health, particularly affecting peripheral organs such as the heart and liver. However, effects on the brain have not been fully evaluated. This study focused on the hippocampus, a brain region instrumental for learning and memory and vulnerable to ischemic damage. Reduced blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity and increased microgliosis were observed in the hippocampus of rats fed a high-saturated-fat and cholesterol (HFHC) diet for 6 months. Interestingly, an increase in hippocampal protein levels of occludin, a tight junction protein, was found in HFHC-treated rats as well. Further investigation revealed decreased expression of the occludin protein in blood vessels and increased expression in the dentate gyrus hilar neurons and mossy fibers of the hippocampal cornus ammonis 3 in HFHC-treated rats. Our results show alterations in BBB integrity and expression of tight junction proteins after long-term exposure to HFHC diet in rats. These findings may suggest a biologic mechanism for previously observed behavioral deficits occurring in rats fed this diet.