Publication Date



Journal of Neuroinflammation


Obesity increases the morbidity and mortality of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Detailed analyses of transcriptomic changes in the brain and adipose tissue were performed to elucidate the interactive effects between high-fat diet-induced obesity (DIO) and TBI. Adult male mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 12 weeks prior to experimental TBI and continuing after injury. High-throughput transcriptomic analysis using Nanostring panels of the total visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and cellular components in the brain, followed by unsupervised clustering, principal component analysis, and IPA pathway analysis were used to determine shifts in gene expression patterns and molecular pathway activity. Cellular populations in the cortex and hippocampus, as well as in VAT, during the chronic phase after combined TBI-HFD showed amplification of central and peripheral microglia/macrophage responses, including superadditive changes in selected gene expression signatures and pathways. Furthermore, combined TBI and HFD caused additive dysfunction in Y-Maze, Novel Object Recognition (NOR), and Morris water maze (MWM) cognitive function tests. These novel data suggest that HFD-induced obesity and TBI can independently prime and support the development of altered states in brain microglia and VAT, including the disease-associated microglia/macrophage (DAM) phenotype observed in neurodegenerative disorders. The interaction between HFD and TBI promotes a shift toward chronic reactive microglia/macrophage transcriptomic signatures and associated pro-inflammatory disease-altered states that may, in part, underlie the exacerbation of cognitive deficits. Thus, targeting of HFD-induced reactive cellular phenotypes, including in peripheral adipose tissue immune cell populations, may serve to reduce microglial maladaptive states after TBI, attenuating post-traumatic neurodegeneration and neurological dysfunction.


Traumatic brain injury, Obesity, Neuroinflammation, Microglia, Disease-associated microglia, Visceral adipose tissue, Cognition

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