The effects of a high-fat sucrose diet on functional outcome following cortical contusion injury in the rat

Michael R. Hoane, Alicia A. Swan, Sarah E. Heck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major public health issue affecting 1.7 million Americans each year, of which approximately 50,000 are fatal. High-fat sucrose (HFS) diets are another public health issue which can lead to obesity, hypertension, and many other debilitating disorders. These two disorders combined can lead to more complicated issues. It has recently been shown that HFS diets can reduce levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) leading to reductions in neuronal and behavioral plasticity. This reduction in BDNF is suspected of increasing the susceptibility of the brain to injury. To test the effects of a HFS diet on recovery of function post-TBI, male Sprague-Dawley rats were used in this study. Eight weeks prior to TBI, rats were placed on a special HFS diet (n = 14) or a standard rodent diet (n = 14). Following this eight-week period, rats were prepared with bilateral frontal cortical contusion injuries (CCI) or sham procedures. Beginning two days post-TBI, animals were tested on a battery of behavioral tests to assess somatosensory dysfunction and spatial memory in the Morris water maze, with a reference memory and a working memory task. Following testing, animals were sacrificed and their brains processed for lesion analysis. The HFS diet worsened performance on the bilateral tactile adhesive removal test in sham animals. Injured animals on the Standard diet had a greater improvement in somatosensory performance in the adhesive removal test and had better performance on the working memory task compared to animals on the HFS diet. The HFS diet also resulted in significantly greater loss of cortical tissue post-CCI than in the Standard diet group. This study may aid in determining how nutritional characteristics or habits interact with damage to the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 30 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • American diet
  • Behavior
  • Brain injury
  • Nutrition
  • Recovery of function
  • TBI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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