Evidence suggests that obesity adversely affects brain function. High body mass index, hypertension, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and diabetes are risk factors for increasing cognitive decline. Tart cherries (Prunus Cerasus L.) are rich in anthocyanins and components that modify lipid metabolism. This study evaluated the effects of tart cherries on the brain in diet-induced obese (DIO) rats. DIO rats were fed with a high-fat diet alone or in association with a tart cherry seeds powder (DS) and juice (DJS). DIO rats were compared to rats fed with a standard diet (CHOW). Food intake, body weight, fasting glycemia, insulin, cholesterol, and triglycerides were measured. Immunochemical and immunohistochemical techniques were performed. Results showed that body weight did not differ among the groups. Blood pressure and glycemia were decreased in both DS and DJS groups when compared to DIO rats. Immunochemical and immunohistochemical techniques demonstrated that in supplemented DIO rats, the glial fibrillary acid protein expression and microglial activation were reduced in both the hippocampus and in the frontal cortex, while the neurofilament was increased. Tart cherry intake modified aquaporin 4 and endothelial inflammatory markers. These findings indicate the potential role of this nutritional supplement in preventing obesity-related risk factors, especially neuroinflammation.
Keywords: Diet-Induced Obese Rats; brain; high fat diet; neuroinflammation; obesity; tart cherries.