Assessment of cognitive impairment in a mouse model of high-fat diet-induced metabolic stress with touchscreen-based automated battery system

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Experimental Neurobiology





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Obesity-related metabolic disorders can affect not only systemic health but also brain function. Recent studies have elucidated that amyloid beta deposition cannot satisfactorily explain the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and that dysregulation of glucose metabolism is a critical factor for the sporadic onset of non-genetic AD. Identifying the pathophysiology of AD due to changes in brain metabolism is crucial; however, it is limited in measuring changes in brain cognitive function due to metabolic changes in animal models. The touchscreen-based automated battery system, which is more accurate and less invasive than conventional behavioral test tools, is used to assess the cognition of mice with dysregulated metabolism. This system was introduced in humans to evaluate cognitive function and was recently back-translated in monkeys and rodents. We used outbred ICR mice fed on highfat diet (HFD) and performed the paired associates learning (PAL) test to detect their visual memory and new learning ability loss as well as to assess memory impairment. The behavioral performance of the HFD mice was weaker than that of normal mice in the training but was not significantly associated with motivation. In the PAL test, the average number of trials completed and proportion of correct touches was significantly lower in HFD mice than in normal diet-fed mice. Our results reveal that HFD-induced metabolic dysregulation has detrimental effects on operant learning according to the percentage of correct responses in PAL. These findings establish that HFD-induced metabolic stress may have an effect in accelerating AD-like pathogenesis.