Brief exposure to obesogenic diet disrupts brain dopamine networks.

Barry RL, Byun NE, Williams JM, Siuta MA, Tantawy MN, Speed NK, Saunders C, Galli A, Niswender KD, Avison MJ
PLoS One. 2018 13 (4): e0191299

PMID: 29698491 · PMCID: PMC5919534 · DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0191299

OBJECTIVE - We have previously demonstrated that insulin signaling, through the downstream signaling kinase Akt, is a potent modulator of dopamine transporter (DAT) activity, which fine-tunes dopamine (DA) signaling at the synapse. This suggests a mechanism by which impaired neuronal insulin receptor signaling, a hallmark of diet-induced obesity, may contribute to impaired DA transmission. We tested whether a short-term (two-week) obesogenic high-fat (HF) diet could reduce striatal Akt activity, a marker of central insulin, receptor signaling and blunt striatal and dopaminergic network responsiveness to amphetamine (AMPH).

METHODS - We examined the effects of a two-week HF diet on striatal DAT activity in rats, using AMPH as a probe in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) assay, and mapped the disruption in AMPH-evoked functional connectivity between key dopaminergic targets and their projection areas using correlation and permutation analyses. We used phosphorylation of the Akt substrate GSK3α in striatal extracts as a measure of insulin receptor signaling. Finally, we confirmed the impact of HF diet on striatal DA D2 receptor (D2R) availability using [18F]fallypride positron emission tomography (PET).

RESULTS - We found that rats fed a HF diet for only two weeks have reductions in striatal Akt activity, a marker of decreased striatal insulin receptor signaling and blunted striatal responsiveness to AMPH. HF feeding also reduced interactions between elements of the mesolimbic (nucleus accumbens-anterior cingulate) and sensorimotor circuits (caudate/putamen-thalamus-sensorimotor cortex) implicated in hedonic feeding. D2R availability was reduced in HF-fed animals.

CONCLUSION - These studies support the hypothesis that central insulin signaling and dopaminergic neurotransmission are already altered after short-term HF feeding. Because AMPH induces DA efflux and brain activation, in large part via DAT, these findings suggest that blunted central nervous system insulin receptor signaling through a HF diet can impair DA homeostasis, thereby disrupting cognitive and reward circuitry involved in the regulation of hedonic feeding.

MeSH Terms (15)

Amphetamine Animals Brain Diet, High-Fat Dopamine Insulin Male Neostriatum Nerve Net Obesity Rats Rats, Sprague-Dawley Receptors, Dopamine D2 Signal Transduction Time Factors

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