A high-fat diet exacerbates depressive-like behavior in the Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL) rat, a genetic model of depression
Harvey, Brian H.
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Major depressive disorder (MDD) and diabetes mellitus type II (T2DM) are two of the major health challenges of our time. It has been shown that MDD and T2DM are highly co-morbid, and recent work has proposed a bi-directional connection between the diseases. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect of a high-fat diet (HFD) on behavior and metabolism in a genetic rat model of depression, the Flinders Sensitive and Resistant Line (FSL/FRL) rats. Age and weight matched rats were fed a HFD or control diet for 10 weeks and subjected to behavioral testing and metabolic assessment. We found that HFD exacerbated the depressive-like behavior of the FSL rat in the Forced Swim Test (FST), a depression screening tool, although it did not affect the non-depressed FRL rat despite a higher caloric intake. Moreover, the depressive-like phenotype was associated with reduced anxiety and impairment in novel object recognition memory, while HFD consumption led to diminished object recognition memory as well. In both strains HFD increased insulin levels during an oral glucose tolerance test, although fasting blood glucose levels were only significantly increased by HFD in the FSL rat, suggesting a greater metabolic susceptibility in this rat strain. We conclude that compared with the FRL rat, the FSL rat is more susceptible to developing aberrant behaviors related to depression following metabolic stress induced by HFD. Further studies with a mechanistic focus could potentially lead to a better understanding of a possible pathophysiological link between T2DM and MDD.