Science University Research Symposium (SURS)

Probiotic Supplementation Induces Dendritic Structural Plasticity Following High-Fat Diet in Adult Female Rats

Publication Date



Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Timothy Schoenfeld

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation


Previous research shows that eating a high-fat diet (HFD) decreases hippocampal volume in rats, producing spatial learning and memory impairments. By contrast, probiotic supplements have been shown to protect the hippocampus against aging and injury. However, it is unknown how probiotic supplements affect the recovery of the brain and behavior following a period of HFD. The purpose of this experiment is to examine dendritic complexity in the rat hippocampusfollowing both HFD and probiotic supplementation. Thirteen adult female rats were given HFD (with 60% of calories coming from fat sources) for one month before being switched back to a control diet. After switch to a control diet, probiotic rats (N = 7) were fed daily diluted Greek yogurt supplements containing millions of probiotic organisms and control rats (N = 6) were fed the same diluted yogurt samples filtered to remove probiotic organisms. Behavioral analysis of this study previously showed that probiotic rats recovered spatial memory to baseline levels by 4 weeks of recovery, whereas control rats still showed impairment at the same time. At this point, brains were harvested and reacted with a standard Golgi-Cox method to stain full neurons, including dendritic trees. Brains were cut at 100um throughout the hippocampus and hippocampal slices were analyzed for dendritic spine density. Dendritic spines were counted along 30um stretches of the dendrites for dentate gyrus (DG) granule cells, and basal and apical dendrites for CA3 and CA1 pyramidal cells. Independent sample t-tests were run to analyze dendritic spine density between the control and probiotic group for each hippocampal cell type and showed that probiotic rats had significantly higher spine density on apical dendrites of CA3 cells, but no effects were found on any other region. Overall, these results provide evidence for the restorative effects of probiotic supplementation on hippocampal structure following HFD.

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