Translational Neuroscience (Jun 2020)

High-fat diet-induced obesity and impairment of brain neurotransmitter pool

  • Labban Ranyah Shaker M.,
  • Alfawaz Hanan,
  • Almnaizel Ahmed T.,
  • Hassan Wail M.,
  • Bhat Ramesa Shafi,
  • Moubayed Nadine MS,
  • Bjørklund Geir,
  • El-Ansary Afaf

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 1
pp. 147 – 160


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Obesity and the brain are linked since the brain can control the weight of the body through its neurotransmitters. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity on brain functioning through the measurement of brain glutamate, dopamine, and serotonin metabolic pools. In the present study, two groups of rats served as subjects. Group 1 was fed a normal diet and named as the lean group. Group 2 was fed an HFD for 4 weeks and named as the obese group. Markers of oxidative stress (malondialdehyde, glutathione, glutathione-s-transferase, and vitamin C), inflammatory cytokines (interleukin [IL]-6 and IL-12), and leptin along with a lipid profile (cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, and low-density lipoprotein levels) were measured in the serum. Neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate were measured in brain tissue. Fecal samples were collected for observing changes in gut flora. In brain tissue, significantly high levels of dopamine and glutamate as well as significantly low levels of serotonin were found in the obese group compared to those in the lean group (P > 0.001) and were discussed in relation to the biochemical profile in the serum. It was also noted that the HFD affected bacterial gut composition in comparison to the control group with gram-positive cocci dominance in the control group compared to obese. The results of the present study confirm that obesity is linked to inflammation, oxidative stress, dyslipidemic processes, and altered brain neurotransmitter levels that can cause obesity-related neuropsychiatric complications.