High-fat diet induces hepatic insulin resistance and impairment of synaptic plasticity

Zhigang Liu, Ishan Y. Patil, Tianyi Jiang, Harsh Sancheti, John P. Walsh, Bangyan L. Stiles, Fei Yin, Enrique Cadenas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


High-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity is associated with insulin resistance, which may affect brain synaptic plasticity through impairment of insulin-sensitive processes underlying neuronal survival, learning, and memory. The experimental model consisted of 3 month-old C57BL/6J mice fed either a normal chow diet (control group) or a HFD (60% of calorie from fat; HFD group) for 12 weeks. This model was characterized as a function of time in terms of body weight, fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, HOMA-IR values, and plasma triglycerides. IRS-1/Akt pathway was assessed in primary hepatocytes and brain homogenates. The effect of HFD in brain was assessed by electrophysiology, input/output responses and long-term potentiation. HFD-fed mice exhibited a significant increase in body weight, higher fasting glucose-and insulin levels in plasma, lower glucose tolerance, and higher HOMA-IR values. In liver, HFD elicited (a) a significant decrease of insulin receptor substrate (IRS-1) phosphorylation on Tyr608 and increase of Ser307 phosphorylation, indicative of IRS-1 inactivation; (b) these changes were accompanied by inflammatory responses in terms of increases in the expression of NFκB and iNOS and activation of the MAP kinases p38 and JNK; (c) primary hepatocytes from mice fed a HFD showed decreased cellular oxygen consumption rates (indicative of mitochondrial functional impairment); this can be ascribed partly to a decreased expression of PGC1α and mitochondrial biogenesis. In brain, HFD feeding elicited (a) an inactivation of the IRS-1 and, consequentially, (b) a decreased expression and plasma membrane localization of the insulin-sensitive neuronal glucose transporters GLUT3/GLUT4; (c) a suppression of the ERK/CREB pathway, and (d) a substantial decrease in long-term potentiation in the CA1 region of hippocampus (indicative of impaired synaptic plasticity). It may be surmised that 12 weeks fed with HFD induce a systemic insulin resistance that impacts profoundly on brain activity, i.e., synaptic plasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0128274
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 29 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'High-fat diet induces hepatic insulin resistance and impairment of synaptic plasticity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this