A possible link between food and mood: dietary impact on gut microbiota and behavior in BALB/c mice

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Bettina Merete Pyndt Jørgensen, Julie Torpe Hansen, Lukasz Krych, Christian Schiøth Larsen, Anders Bue Klein, Dennis Sandris Nielsen, Knud Josefsen, Axel Kornerup Hansen, Dorte Bratbo Sørensen

Major depressive disorder is a debilitating disease in the Western World. A western diet high in saturated fat and refined sugar seems to play an important part in disease development. Therefore, this study is aimed at investigating whether saturated fat or sucrose predisposes mice to develop behavioral symptoms which can be interpreted as depression-like, and the possible influence of the gut microbiota (GM) in this. Fourty-two mice were randomly assigned to one of three experimental diets, a high-fat, a high-sucrose or a control diet for thirteen weeks. Mice on high-fat diet gained more weight (p = 0.00009), displayed significantly less burrowing behavior than the control mice (p = 0.034), and showed decreased memory in the Morris water maze test compared to mice on high-sucrose diet (p = 0.031). Mice on high-sucrose diet burrowed less goal-oriented, showed greater latency to first bout of immobility in the forced swim test when compared to control mice (p = 0.039) and high-fat fed mice (p = 0.013), and displayed less anxiety than mice on high-fat diet in the triple test (p = 0.009). Behavioral changes were accompanied by a significant change in GM composition of mice fed a high-fat diet, while no difference between diet groups was observed for sucrose preferences, LPS, cholesterol, HbA1c, BDNF and the cytokines IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, IL-12(p70), IL-17 and TNF-α. A series of correlations was found between GM, behavior, BDNF and inflammatory mediators. In conclusion, the study shows that dietary fat and sucrose affect behavior, sometimes in opposite directions, and suggests a possible association between GM and behavior.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume9
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)e103398
Number of pages15
ISSN1932-6203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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