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PLoS One. 2016 May 12;11(5):e0155307. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155307. eCollection 2016.

The Effect of a High-Fat Diet on Brain Plasticity, Inflammation and Cognition in Female ApoE4-Knockin and ApoE-Knockout Mice.

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Department of Anatomy, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour, Radboud university medical center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Department of Internal Medicine, Laboratory of Vascular Medicine, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4), one of three common isoforms of ApoE, is a major risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD). ApoE-deficient mice, as well as mice expressing human ApoE4, display impaired learning and memory functions and signs of neurodegeneration. Moreover, ApoE protects against high-fat (HF) diet induced neurodegeneration by its role in the maintenance of the integrity of the blood-brain barrier. The influence of a HF diet on the progression of AD-like cognitive and neuropathological changes was assessed in wild-type (WT), human ApoE4 and ApoE-knockout (ApoE-/-) mice to evaluate the modulatory role of ApoE in this process. From 12 months of age, female WT, ApoE4, and ApoE-/- mice were fed either a standard or a HF diet (19% butter, 0.5% cholate, 1.25% cholesterol) throughout life. At 15 months of age mice performed the Morris water maze, evaluating spatial learning and memory. ApoE-/- showed increased spatial learning compared to WT mice (p = 0.009). HF diet improved spatial learning in WT mice (p = 0.045), but did not affect ApoE4 and ApoE-/- mice. Immunohistochemical analyses of the hippocampus demonstrated increased neuroinflammation (CD68) in the cornu ammonis 1 (CA1) region in ApoE4 (p = 0.001) and in ApoE-/- (p = 0.032) mice on standard diet. HF diet tended to increase CD68 in the CA1 in WT mice (p = 0.052), while it decreased in ApoE4 (p = 0.009), but ApoE-/- remained unaffected. A trend towards increased neurogenesis (DCX) was found in both ApoE4 (p = 0.052) and ApoE-/- mice (p = 0.068). In conclusion, these data suggest that HF intake induces different effects in WT mice compared to ApoE4 and ApoE-/- with respect to markers for cognition and neurodegeneration. We propose that HF intake inhibits the compensatory mechanisms of neuroinflammation and neurogenesis in aged female ApoE4 and ApoE-/- mice.

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