High-sucrose diet effects on the dendritic trees of developing neurons of the adolescent rat
R. Rodrigues1,2,, , F. Barreto1,2, A. Cardoso1,2, J.P. Andrade1,2
1 Department of Biomedicine – Unit of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, Alameda Prof. Hernâni Monteiro, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal
2 Center of Health Technology and Services Research (CINTESIS), Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, Rua Dr. Plácido da Costa, 4200-450 Porto, Portugal

Aim: In the present study, we aimed to explore the effect of high-sucrose diets on the dendritic trees of immature granule cells of the adolescent male rats.

Introduction: Adolescence is a period of high susceptibility to exogenous factors as the rat brain is still developing. Evidence shows that high-sucrose diets may be more detrimental to adolescent rats, therefore we intended to study immature granule cells in the hippocampal formation of these animals. For that, we used doublecortin (DCX), a microtubule-associated protein expressed by neuronal precursor cells and immature neurons, which is used as a marker for neurogenesis.

Methods: At 4 weeks of age, adolescent male Wistar rats were randomly allocated to control group (n=7) and to an high-sucrose (30% sucrose) diet group (n=4; HS) during 4 weeks. After this period, rats were sacrificed and DCX immunocytochemistry was performed. The dendritic trees of the DCX-immunostained cells were drawn with the aid of a camera lucida. A metric analysis of the dendritic trees was performed, and the following parameters were quantified: total dendritic length, the total number of terminal segments, the total number of intermediate segments, mean length of terminal segments and mean length of intermediate segments.

Results: Our results show that the total dendritic length of HS adolescent rats was significantly reduced when compared with controls (p<0.03). There were no other differences in the others parameters quantified.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the dendritic trees of immature neurons of the dentate gyrus of HS adolescent rats appear to be disturbed after the exposition of this diet. This data confirms previous evidence reporting adolescence as a susceptible period of the brain development with likely consequences in cognition. If that is so, and if the reported results can be extrapolated to man, public health interventions are necessary to advise adolescents concerning their diet.

Acknowledgements: This article was supported by ERDF through the operation POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007746 funded by the Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização – COMPETE2020 and by National Funds through FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia within CINTESIS, R&D Unit (reference UID/IC/4255/2013).

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