Brain and Behavioral Perturbations in Rats Following Western Diet Access

Appetite. 2015 Oct;93:35-43. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.03.037. Epub 2015 Apr 8.


Energy dense "Western" diets (WD) are known to cause obesity as well as learning and memory impairments, blood-brain barrier damage, and psychological disturbances. Impaired glucose (GLUT1) and monocarboxylate (MCT1) transport may play a role in diet-induced dementia development. In contrast, ketogenic diets (KD) have been shown to be neuroprotective. We assessed the effect of 10, 40 and 90 days WD, KD and Chow maintenance on spontaneous alternation (SA) and vicarious trial and error (VTE) behaviors in male rats, then analyzed blood glucose, insulin, and ketone levels; and hippocampal GLUT1 and MCT1 mRNA. Compared to Chow and KD, rats fed WD had increased 90 day insulin levels. SA was decreased in WD rats at 10, but not 40 or 90 days. VTE was perturbed in WD-fed rats, particularly at 10 and 90 days, indicating hippocampal deficits. WD rats had lower hippocampal GLUT1 and MCT1 expression compared to Chow and KD, and KD rats had increased 90 day MCT1 expression compared to Chow and WD. These data suggest that WD reduces glucose and monocarboxylate transport at the hippocampus, which may result in learning and memory deficits. Further, KD consumption may be useful for MCT1 transporter recovery, which may benefit cognition.

Keywords: GLUT1; Hippocampus; MCT1; Obesity; Spontaneous alternation; Vicarious trial and error.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Dementia / etiology*
  • Diet, Ketogenic / adverse effects*
  • Diet, Western / adverse effects*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Ketones / blood
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Symporters / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Insulin
  • Ketones
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Slc2a1 protein, rat
  • Symporters
  • monocarboxylate transport protein 1