High-fat diet-induced metabolic disorders impairs 5-HT function and anxiety-like behavior in mice

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The link between type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and depression is bidirectional. However, the possibility that metabolic disorders may elicit anxiogenic-like/depressive-like symptoms or alter the efficacy of antidepressant drugs remains poorly documented. This study explored the influence of T2DM on emotionality and proposed a therapeutic strategy that might be used in depressed diabetic patients.


Mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) and subjected to a full comprehensive metabolic and behavioural analysis to establish correlations between metabolic and psychiatric disorders. In vivo intra-hippocampal microdialysis was also applied to propose a mechanism underpinning the phenotype of mice fed the HFD. Finally, we tested whether chronic administration of the selective 5-HT reuptake inhibitor escitalopram or HFD withdrawal could reverse HFD-induced metabolic and behavioural anomalies.


The increased body weight, hyperglycaemia and impaired glucose tolerance in response to HFD were correlated with anxiogenic-like/depressive-like symptoms. Moreover, this phenotype was associated with decreased extracellular 5-HT levels in the hippocampus which may result from increased sensitivity of the dorsal raphe 5-HT1A autoreceptor. Interestingly, the beneficial effect of prolonged administration of escitalopram was abolished in HFD-fed mice. On the contrary, HFD withdrawal completely reversed metabolic impairments and positively changed symptoms of anxiety, although some behavioural anomalies persisted.


Our data provide clear-cut evidence that both pathologies are finely correlated and associated with impaired 5-HT mediated neurotransmission in the hippocampus. Further experiments are warranted to define the most adequate strategy for the treatment of such co-morbidity.


This article is part of a themed section on Updating Neuropathology and Neuropharmacology of Monoaminergic Systems. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v173.13/issuetoc

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