Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and several types of neurodegeneration, including Alzheimer's, are linked to insulin-resistance, and chronic high dietary fat intake causes T2DM with mild neurodegeneration. Intra-cerebral Streptozotocin, a nitrosamine-related compound, causes neurodegeneration, whereas peripheral treatment causes DM.
Hypothesis: Limited early exposures to nitrosamines that are widely present in the environment, enhance the deleterious effects of high fat intake in promoting T2DM and neurodegeneration.
Methods: Long Evans rat pups were treated with N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) by i.p. injection, and upon weaning, they were fed with high fat (60%; HFD) or low fat (5%; LFD) chow for 8 weeks. Cerebella were harvested to assess gene expression, and insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) deficiency and resistance in the context of neurodegeneration.
Results: HFD +/- NDEA caused T2DM, neurodegeneration with impairments in brain insulin, insulin receptor, IGF-2 receptor, or insulin receptor substrate gene expression, and reduced expression of tau and choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), which are regulated by insulin and IGF-1. In addition, increased levels of 4-hydroxynonenal and nitrotyrosine were measured in cerebella of HFD +/- NDEA treated rats, and overall, NDEA+HFD treatment reduced brain levels of Tau, phospho-GSK-3beta (reflecting increased GSK-3beta activity), glial fibrillary acidic protein, and ChAT to greater degrees than either treatment alone. Finally, pro-ceramide genes, examined because ceramides cause insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and neurodegeneration, were significantly up-regulated by HFD and/or NDEA exposure, but the highest levels were generally present in brains of HFD+NDEA treated rats.
Conclusions: Early limited exposure to nitrosamines exacerbates the adverse effects of later chronic high dietary fat intake in promoting T2DM and neurodegeneration. The mechanism involves increased generation of ceramides and probably other toxic lipids in brain.