A binge high sucrose diet provokes systemic and cerebral inflammation in rats without inducing obesity.

Patkar, Omkar L; Mohamed, Abdalla Z; Narayanan, Ashwin; Mardon, Karine; Cowin, Gary; Bhalla, Rajiv; Stimson, Damion H R; Kassiou, Michael; Beecher, Kate; Belmer, Arnauld; Alvarez Cooper, Ignatius; Morgan, Michael; Hume, David A; Irvine, Katharine M; Bartlett, Selena E; Nasrallah, Fatima; Cumming, Paul (2021). A binge high sucrose diet provokes systemic and cerebral inflammation in rats without inducing obesity. Scientific reports, 11(1), p. 11252. Springer Nature 10.1038/s41598-021-90817-z

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While the dire cardiometabolic consequences of the hypercaloric modern 'Western' diet are well known, there is not much information on the health impact of a high sucrose diet not inducing weight gain. Here, we tested the hypothesis that rats reared with intermittent binge access to sucrose in addition to normal chow would develop an inflammatory response in brain. To test this hypothesis, we undertook serial PET/MRI scans with the TSPO ligand [18F]DPA714 in a group of (n=9) rats at baseline and again after voluntarily consuming 5% sucrose solution three days a week for three months. Compared to a control group fed with normal chow (n=9), the sucrose rats indeed showed widespread increases in the availability of cerebral binding sites for the microglial marker, despite normal weight gain compared to the control diet group. Subsequent immunofluorescence staining of the brains confirmed the PET findings, showing a widespread 20% increase in the abundance of IBA-1-positive microglia with characteristic 'semi-activated' morphology in the binge sucrose rats, which had 23% lower density of microglial endpoints and 25% lower mean process length compared to microglia in the control rats with ordinary feeding. GFAP immunofluorescence showed no difference in astroglial coverage in the sucrose rats, except for a slight reduction in hypothalamus. The binge sucrose diet-induced neuroinflammation was associated with a significant elevation of white blood cell counts. Taking these results together, we find that long-term intake of sucrose in a binge paradigm, similar in sucrose content to the contemporary Western diet, triggered a low-grade systemic and central inflammation in non-obese rats. The molecular mechanism of this phenomenon remains to be established.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Clinic of Nuclear Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Cumming, Paul


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Springer Nature




Daria Vogelsang

Date Deposited:

16 Dec 2021 09:34

Last Modified:

19 Dec 2021 01:45

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:






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