High-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity is accompanied by insulin resistance and compromised brain synaptic plasticity through the impairment of insulin-sensitive pathways regulating neuronal survival, learning, and memory. Lipoic acid is known to modulate the redox status of the cell and has insulin mimetic effects. This study was aimed at determining the effects of dietary administration of lipoic acid on a HFD-induced obesity model in terms of (a) insulin signaling, (b) brain glucose uptake and neuronal- and astrocytic metabolism, and (c) synaptic plasticity. 3-Month old C57BL/6J mice were divided into 4 groups exposed to their respective treatments for 9 weeks: (1) normal diet, (2) normal diet plus lipoic acid, (3) HFD, and (4) HFD plus lipoic acid. HFD resulted in higher body weight, development of insulin resistance, lower brain glucose uptake and glucose transporters, alterations in glycolytic and acetate metabolism in neurons and astrocytes, and ultimately synaptic plasticity loss evident by a decreased long-term potentiation (LTP). Lipoic acid treatment in mice on HFD prevented several HFD-induced metabolic changes and preserved synaptic plasticity. The metabolic and physiological changes in HFD-fed mice, including insulin resistance, brain glucose uptake and metabolism, and synaptic function, could be preserved by the insulin-like effect of lipoic acid.
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