Research Papers: Pathology:

High fat diet exacerbates Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology in APPswe/PS1 mice

Peter Thériault, Ayman ElAli and Serge Rivest _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:67808-67827. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.12179

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Peter Thériault1, Ayman ElAli2 and Serge Rivest1

1 Neuroscience Laboratory, CHU de Québec Research Center and Department of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Québec City, QC, Canada

2 Neuroscience Laboratory, CHU de Québec Research Center and Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Québec City, QC, Canada

Correspondence to:

Serge Rivest, email:

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; age; high fat diet; blood-brain barrier; pericyte; Pathology Section

Received: June 11, 2016 Accepted: September 16, 2016 Published: September 21, 2016


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is mainly characterized by the accumulation and aggregation of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides in brain parenchyma and cerebral microvasculature. Unfortunately, the exact causes of the disease are still unclear. However, blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction and activation of inflammatory pathways are implicated in AD pathogenesis. Importantly, advanced age and high fat diet, two major risk factors associated with AD, were shown to deeply affect BBB function and modulate the immune response. As such, this study evaluated the impact of age and high fat diet on AD progression. For this purpose, 3 (i.e. young) and 12 (i.e. aged) months old APPswe/PS1 mice were fed for 4 months with a high fat diet (i.e. Western diet (WD)) or normal diet. Interestingly, neurobehavioral tests revealed that WD accelerates age-associated cognitive decline without affecting parenchymal Aβ. Nonetheless, WD decreases matrix metalloproteinase-9 enzymatic activity and brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA and protein levels in brain, suggesting loss of synaptic plasticity. In the periphery, WD promotes systemic inflammation by increasing the levels of blood-circulating monocytes and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 production, which is accompanied by an augmentation of oxidized-low density lipoprotein levels in blood circulation. At the BBB, WD potentiates the age-induced increase of Aβ 1-40 accumulation and exacerbates the oxidative stress, specifically in cerebral microvasculature. These effects were accompanied by the dysfunction of pericytes, thus altering BBB functionality without compromising its integrity. Our study provides new insights into the implication of high fat diet in accelerating the cognitive decline in AD.

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