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Rivera, O., McHan, L., Konadu, B., Patel, S., Sint Jago, S., Talbert, M.E. (2019). A high-fat diet impacts memory and gene expression of the head in mated female Drosophila melanogaster.  J. Comp. Physiol. B, Biochem. Syst. Environ. Physiol. 189(2): 179--198.
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Research paper

Obesity predisposes humans to a range of life-threatening comorbidities, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Obesity also aggravates neural pathologies, such as Alzheimer's disease, but this class of comorbidity is less understood. When Drosophila melanogaster (flies) are exposed to high-fat diet (HFD) by supplementing a standard medium with coconut oil, they adopt an obese phenotype of decreased lifespan, increased triglyceride storage, and hindered climbing ability. The latter development has been previously regarded as a potential indicator of neurological decline in fly models of neurodegenerative disease. Our objective was to establish the obesity phenotype in Drosophila and identify a potential correlation, if any, between obesity and neurological decline through behavioral assays and gene expression microarray. We found that mated female w1118 flies exposed to HFD maintained an obese phenotype throughout adult life starting at 7 days, evidenced by increased triglyceride stores, diminished life span, and impeded climbing ability. While climbing ability worsened cumulatively between 7 and 14 days of exposure to HFD, there was no corresponding alteration in triglyceride content. Microarray analysis of the mated female w1118 fly head revealed HFD-induced changes in expression of genes with functions in memory, metabolism, olfaction, mitosis, cell signaling, and motor function. Meanwhile, an Aversive Phototaxis Suppression assay in mated female flies indicated reduced ability to recall an entrained memory 6 h after training. Overall, our results support the suitability of mated female flies for examining connections between diet-induced obesity and nervous or neurobehavioral pathology, and provide many directions for further investigation.

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PubMed Central ID
PMC6711602 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Publication Type
    J. Comp. Physiol. B, Biochem. Syst. Environ. Physiol.
    Journal of comparative physiology. B, Biochemical, systemic, and environmental physiology
    Publication Year
    0174-1578 1432-136X
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