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Early intake of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids preserves brain structure and function in diet-induced obesity

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Author: Arnoldussen, I.A.C. · Zerbi, V. · Wiesmann, M. · Noordman, R.H.J. · Bolijn, S. · Mutsaers, M.P.C. · Dederen, P.J.W.C. · Kleemann, R. · Kooistra, T. · Tol, E.A.F. van · Gross, G. · Schoemaker, M.H. · Wieling, P.Y. · Kilian, A.
Source:The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 30, 177-188
Identifier: 533396
doi: DOI:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2015.12.011
Keywords: Biology · Brain structure · Obesity · Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids · High-fat and high-carbohydrate diets · Neuroimaging · Biomedical Innovation · Healthy Living · Life · MHR - Metabolic Health Research · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


orldwide, the incidence of obesity is increasing at an alarming rate, and the number of children with obesity is especially worrisome. These developments raise concerns about the physical, psychosocial and cognitive consequences of obesity. It was shown that early dietary intake of arachidonic acid (ARA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can reduce the detrimental effects of later obesogenic feeding on lipid metabolism and adipogenesis in an animal model of mild obesity. In the present study, the effects of early dietary ARA and DHA on cognition and brain structure were examined in mildly obesogenic ApoE*3Leiden mouse model. We used cognitive tests and neuroimaging during early and later life. During their early development after weaning (4–13 weeks of age), mice were fed a chow diet or ARA and DHA diet for 8 weeks and then switched to a high-fat and high-carbohydrate (HFHC) diet for 12 weeks (14–26 weeks of age). An HFHC-diet led to increased energy storage in white adipose tissue, increased cholesterol levels, decreased triglycerides levels, increased cerebral blood flow and decreased functional connectivity between brain regions as well as cerebrovascular and gray matter integrity. ARA and DHA intake reduced the HFHC-diet-induced increase in body weight, attenuated plasma triglycerides levels and improved cerebrovasculature, gray matter integrity and functional connectivity in later life. In conclusion, an HFHC diet causes adverse structural brain and metabolic adaptations, most of which can be averted by dietary ARA and DHA intake early in life supporting metabolic flexibility and cerebral integrity later in life.