High fat diet produces brain insulin resistance, synaptodendritic abnormalities and altered behavior in mice

Steven E. Arnold, Irwin Lucki, Bethany R. Brookshire, Gregory C. Carlson, Caroline A. Browne, Hala Kazi, Sookhee Bang, Bo Ran Choi, Yong Chen, Mary F. McMullen, Sangwon F. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Insulin resistance and other features of the metabolic syndrome are increasingly recognized for their effects on cognitive health. To ascertain mechanisms by which this occurs, we fed mice a very high fat diet (60% kcal by fat) for 17days or a moderate high fat diet (HFD, 45% kcal by fat) for 8weeks and examined changes in brain insulin signaling responses, hippocampal synaptodendritic protein expression, and spatial working memory. Compared to normal control diet mice, cerebral cortex tissues of HFD mice were insulin-resistant as evidenced by failed activation of Akt, S6 and GSK3β with ex-vivo insulin stimulation. Importantly, we found that expression of brain IPMK, which is necessary for mTOR/Akt signaling, remained decreased in HFD mice upon activation of AMPK. HFD mouse hippocampus exhibited increased expression of serine-phosphorylated insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS1-pS616), a marker of insulin resistance, as well as decreased expression of PSD-95, a scaffolding protein enriched in post-synaptic densities, and synaptopodin, an actin-associated protein enriched in spine apparatuses. Spatial working memory was impaired as assessed by decreased spontaneous alternation in a T-maze. These findings indicate that HFD is associated with telencephalic insulin resistance and deleterious effects on synaptic integrity and cognitive behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Akt
  • GSK3
  • IPMK
  • Insulin
  • Insulin receptor substrate 1
  • MTOR
  • Spine
  • Synapse
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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