A high fructose diet impairs spatial memory in male rats

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2009 Oct;92(3):410-6. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2009.05.007. Epub 2009 Jun 12.


Over the past three decades there has been a substantial increase in the amount of fructose consumed by North Americans. Recent evidence from rodents indicates that hippocampal insulin signaling facilitates memory and excessive fructose consumption produces hippocampal insulin resistance. Based on this evidence, the present study tested the hypothesis that a high fructose diet would impair hippocampal-dependent memory. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats (postnatal day 61) were fed either a control (0% fructose) or high fructose diet (60% of calories). Food intake and body mass were measured regularly. After 19 weeks, the rats were given 3 days of training (8 trials/day) in a spatial version of the water maze task, and retention performance was probed 48 h later. The high fructose diet did not affect acquisition of the task, but did impair performance on the retention test. Specifically, rats fed a high fructose diet displayed significantly longer latencies to reach the area where the platform had been located, made significantly fewer approaches to that area, and spent significantly less time in the target quadrant than did control diet rats. There was no difference in swim speed between the two groups. The retention deficits correlated significantly with fructose-induced elevations of plasma triglyceride concentrations. Consequently, the impaired spatial water maze retention performance seen with the high fructose diet may have been attributable, at least in part, to fructose-induced increases in plasma triglycerides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Eating
  • Fructose / administration & dosage*
  • Hepatomegaly / physiopathology
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Swimming / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Triglycerides
  • Fructose