Affective and substance-use disorders are associated with overweight and obesity-related complications, which are often due to the overconsumption of palatable food. Both high-fat diets (HFDs) and psychostimulant drugs modulate the neuro-circuitry regulating emotional processing and metabolic functions. However, it is not known how they interact at the behavioural level, and whether they lead to overlapping changes in neurobiological endpoints. In this literature review, we describe the impact of HFDs on emotionality, cognition, and reward-related behaviour in rodents. We also outline the effects of HFD on brain metabolism and plasticity involving mitochondria. Moreover, the possible overlap of the neurobiological mechanisms produced by HFDs and psychostimulants is discussed. Our in-depth analysis of published results revealed that HFDs have a clear impact on behaviour and underlying brain processes, which are largely dependent on the developmental period. However, apart from the studies investigating maternal exposure to HFDs, most of the published results involve only male rodents. Future research should also examine the biological impact of HFDs in female rodents. Further knowledge about the molecular mechanisms linking stress and obesity is a crucial requirement of translational research and using rodent models can significantly advance the important search for risk-related biomarkers and the development of clinical intervention strategies.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)