Effects of a saturated fat and high cholesterol diet on memory and hippocampal morphology in the middle-aged rat

Ann Charlotte Granholm, Heather Bimonte-Nelson, Alfred B. Moore, Matthew E. Nelson, Linnea R. Freeman, Kumar Sambamurti

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Abstract

Diets rich in cholesterol and/or saturated fats have been shown to be detrimental to cognitive performance. Therefore, we fed a cholesterol (2%) and saturated fat (hydrogenated coconut oil, Sat Fat 10%) diet to 16-month old rats for 8 weeks to explore the effects on the working memory performance of middle-aged rats. Lipid profiles revealed elevated plasma triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL for the Sat-Fat group as compared to an iso-caloric control diet (12% soybean oil). Weight gain and food consumption were similar in both groups. Sat-Fat treated rats committed more working memory errors in the water radial arm maze, especially at higher memory loads. Cholesterol, amyloid-β peptide of 40 (Aβ40) or 42 (Aβ42) residues, and nerve growth factor in cortical regions was unaffected, but hippocampal Map-2 staining was reduced in rats fed a Sat-Fat diet, indicating a loss of dendritic integrity. Map-2 reduction correlated with memory errors. Microglial activation, indicating inflammation and/or gliosis, was also observed in the hippocampus of Sat-Fat fed rats. These data suggest that saturated fat, hydrogenated fat and cholesterol can profoundly impair memory and hippocampal morphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-145
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

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Keywords

  • Aging
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dietary effects
  • Memory
  • Saturated fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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