High-fat diet-induced memory impairment in triple-transgenic Alzheimer's disease (3xTgAD) mice is independent of changes in amyloid and tau pathology

Neurobiol Aging. 2014 Aug;35(8):1821-32. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.02.010. Epub 2014 Feb 15.


Obesity and consumption of a high-fat diet are known to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Diets high in fat also increase disease neuropathology and/or cognitive deficits in AD mouse models. However, the effect of a high-fat diet on both the neuropathology and memory impairments in the triple-transgenic mouse model of AD (3xTgAD) is unknown. Therefore, groups of 2-month-old male 3xTgAD and control (non-Tg) mice were maintained on a high-fat or control diet and memory was assessed at the age of 3-4, 7-8, 11-12, and 15-16 months using a series of behavioral tests. A comparable increase in body weight was observed in non-Tg and 3xTgAD mice after high-fat feeding at all ages tested but a significantly greater increase in epididymal adipose tissue was observed in 3xTgAD mice at the age of 7-8, 11-12, and 15-16 months. A high-fat diet caused memory impairments in non-Tg control mice as early as the age of 3-4 months. In 3xTgAD mice, high-fat consumption led to a reduction in the age of onset and an increase in the extent of memory impairments. Some of these effects of high-fat diet on cognition in non-Tg and 3xTgAD mice were transient, and the age at which cognitive impairment was detected depended on the behavioral test. The effect of high-fat diet on memory in the 3xTgAD mice was independent of changes in AD neuropathology as no significant differences in (plaques, oligomers) or tau neuropathology were observed. An acute increase in microglial activation was seen in high-fat fed 3xTgAD mice at the age of 3-4 months but in non-Tg control mice microglial activation was not observed until the age of 15-16 months. These data indicate therefore that a high-fat diet has rapid and long-lasting negative effects on memory in both control and AD mice that are associated with neuroinflammation, but independent of changes in beta amyloid and tau neuropathology in the AD mice.

Keywords: 3xTgAD; Adipose tissue; High-fat diet; Memory; Metabolism; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cognition
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epididymis / metabolism
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Risk
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • tau Proteins