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A High Fat Diet-Induced Decrease in Hippocampal Newly-Born Neurons of Male Mice Is Exacerbated by Mild Psychological Stress Using a Communication Box

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A High Fat Diet-Induced Decrease in Hippocampal Newly-Born Neurons of Male Mice Is Exacerbated by Mild Psychological Stress Using a Communication Box

Yusuke Murata et al. J Affect Disord.

Abstract

Background: Obese persons have a higher incidence of depression than healthy-weight persons. Several studies indicated that the exposure to a high fat diet (HFD) results in a decrease in hippocampal neurogenesis, which leads to higher stress response and stress-induced depression. Although stress is a risk factor for obesity and depression, no studies to date have investigated the effect of stress on the hippocampal neurogenesis of HFD-induced obese animals. The aim of this study was to elucidate whether or not obese HFD-fed mice are vulnerable to stress-induced depression by investigating hippocampal neurogenesis.

Methods: Sixty-four male ICR mice (four weeks of age) were fed a control (N=24) or 45%HFD (N=40) for seven weeks. Of the HFD-fed group, twenty-four mice met the criteria for "diet-induced obesity". The animals were then exposed to three consecutive days of psychological stress using a Communication Box. Half were sacrificed to evaluate the physiological changes, and the other half were perfused to quantify hippocampal neuroblasts/immature neurons by the estimation of doublecortin-immunopositive cells.

Results: In the HFD-fed mice, psychological stress resulted in increases in caloric intake and visceral adipose tissue and a significant decrease in doublecortin-positive cells in the dentate gyrus; however, no such differences were found in the control diet-fed group. Limitations Further study using other neurogenic markers to assess the stage-specific changes in hippocampal neurogenesis will be required CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that an HFD-induced decrease in hippocampal newly-born neurons leads to stress vulnerability, which may contribute to a high risk of stress-induced depression for obese persons.

Keywords: Communication Box; Depression; High fat diet; Hippocampal neurogenesis; Obesity; Psychological stress; Stress vulnerability.

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