Age-dependent and region-specific alteration of parvalbumin neurons, perineuronal nets and microglia in the mouse prefrontal cortex and hippocampus following obesogenic diet consumption

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Scientific Reports





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Emergent evidence demonstrates that excessive consumption of high fat and high sugar (HFHS) diets has negative consequences on hippocampal and prefrontal cortex (PFC) function. Moreover, the delayed maturation of the PFC including the late development of parvalbumin-expressing (PV) interneurons and perineuronal nets (PNNs) may promote vulnerability to HFHS diet-induced nutritional stress. However, the young brain may have some resistance to diet-induced neuroinflammation. Thus, we examined the impact of a HFHS diet commencing either in adolescence or adulthood in male mice. PV interneurons, PNNs and microglia were assessed using immunohistochemistry. We observed greater numbers of PV neurons and PNNs in the hippocampus and the prelimbic and infralimbic PFC in adult mice in comparison to our younger cohort. Mice that consumed HFHS diet as adults had reduced numbers of hippocampal PV neurons and PNNs, which correlated with adiposity. However, we saw no effects of diet on PV and PNNs in the PFC. HFHS diet increased microgliosis in the adult cohort, and morphological changes to microglia were observed in the PFC and hippocampus of the adolescent cohort, with a shift to activated microglia phenotypes. Taken together, these findings demonstrate different regional and age-specific effects of obesogenic diets on PV neurons, PNNs and microglia.