Obesity and neuroinflammation: a pathway to cognitive impairment

Miller, A. A. and Spencer, S. J. (2014) Obesity and neuroinflammation: a pathway to cognitive impairment. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 42, pp. 10-21. (doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2014.04.001) (PMID:24727365)

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Obesity is a growing problem worldwide and is associated with a range of comorbidities, including cognitive dysfunction. In this review we will address the evidence that obesity and high fat feeding can lead to cognitive dysfunction. We will also examine the idea that obesity-associated systemic inflammation leads to inflammation within the brain, particularly the hypothalamus, and that this is partially responsible for these negative cognitive outcomes. Thus, obesity, and high fat feeding, lead to systemic inflammation and excess circulating free fatty acids. Circulating cytokines, free fatty acids and immune cells reach the brain at the level of the hypothalamus and initiate local inflammation, including microglial proliferation. This local inflammation likely causes synaptic remodeling and neurodegeneration within the hypothalamus, altering internal hypothalamic circuitry and hypothalamic outputs to other brain regions. The result is disruption to cognitive function mediated by regions such as hippocampus, amygdala, and reward-processing centers. Central inflammation is also likely to affect these regions directly. Thus, central inflammation in obesity leads not just to disruption of hypothalamic satiety signals and perpetuation of overeating, but also to negative outcomes on cognition.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Miller, Dr Alyson
Authors: Miller, A. A., and Spencer, S. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Health
Journal Name:Brain, Behavior, and Immunity
ISSN (Online):1090-2139
Published Online:12 April 2014

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