Published in Cell Press iScience, the Marshall University the authors say that diet creates these effects on the brain with increased signaling of Na, K-ATPase in adipocytes.
Mice were also given antibiotic doxycycline to activate NaKtide peptide in fat cells.
Mice that ate the Western diet gained weight and showed insulin resistance, lowered oxygen levels and low energy.
“In this study, we found that the Western diet caused systemic oxidative stress along with evidence of Na, K-ATPase signaling activation in both mouse brain and peripheral tissues,” wrote the authors. “We also observed that this diet caused an increase in circulating inflammatory cytokines, as well as behavioral and brain biochemical changes consistent with neurodegeneration.”
When researchers blocked the Na, K-ATPase signal by using NaKtida in fat cells, this stopped the harmful effects that the Western diet had on the brains of animals – and hippocampus especially.
The hippocampus is an area of the brain that is involved in regulating emotional responses and is mainly involved in storing long-term memories.
“These data suggest that the Western diet causes cognitive decline and neurodegeneration with increased Na, K-ATPase signaling, and that antagonism of this pathway in adipocytes improves pathophysiology,” they said.
If these findings were also observed in humans, the study authors argued that adipocyte Na, K-ATPase could serve as a clinical target in therapy neurodegenerative disorders.
Previous studies have shown that the Western diet increases the risk of death after a diagnosis of prostate cancer and increases the severity of sepsis.
The Western diet generally involves excessive consumption of too many refined sugars, highly refined and saturated fats, and too many calories.
While the Western diet has been found to cause a number of adverse health effects, such as obesity, scientists they also have previously published studies regarding its negative impact on behavior, cognition, and emotion.