Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Effect of High-Fat Diet on Synaptic Plasticity and Mitochondrial Functions

Brain Sci. 2020 Oct 31;10(11):805. doi: 10.3390/brainsci10110805.


Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) include diverse neuropathologies characterized by abnormal brain development leading to impaired cognition, communication and social skills. A common feature of NDDs is defective synaptic plasticity, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are only partially known. Several studies have indicated that people's lifestyles such as diet pattern and physical exercise have significant influence on synaptic plasticity of the brain. Indeed, it has been reported that a high-fat diet (HFD, with 30-50% fat content), which leads to systemic low-grade inflammation, has also a detrimental effect on synaptic efficiency. Interestingly, metabolic alterations associated with obesity in pregnant woman may represent a risk factor for NDDs in the offspring. In this review, we have discussed the potential molecular mechanisms linking the HFD-induced metabolic dysfunctions to altered synaptic plasticity underlying NDDs, with a special emphasis on the roles played by synaptic protein synthesis and mitochondrial functions.

Keywords: high-fat diet; mitochondria; neurodevelopmental disorders; synaptic plasticity; synaptic protein synthesis.

Publication types

  • Review