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Some dietary fats are a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD) but the mechanisms for this association are presently unknown. In the present study we showed in wild-type mice that chronic ingestion of SFA results in blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction and significant delivery into the brain of plasma proteins, including apo B lipoproteins that are endogenously enriched in amyloid-beta (Abeta). Conversely, the plasma concentration of S100B was used as a marker of brain-to-blood leakage and was found to be increased two-fold because of SFA feeding. Consistent with a deterioration in BBB integrity in SFA-fed mice was a diminished cerebrovascular expression of occludin, an endothelial tight junction protein. In contrast to SFA-fed mice, chronic ingestion of MUFA or PUFA had no detrimental effect on BBB integrity. Utilising highly sensitive three-dimensional immunomicroscopy, we also showed that the cerebral distribution and co-localisation of Abeta with apo B lipoproteins in SFA-fed mice are similar to those found in amyloid precursor protein/presenilin-1 (APP/PS1) amyloid transgenic mice, an established murine model of AD. Moreover, there was a strong positive association of plasma-derived apo B lipoproteins with cerebral Abeta deposits. Collectively, the findings of the present study provide a plausible explanation of how dietary fats may influence AD risk. Ingestion of SFA could enhance peripheral delivery to the brain of circulating lipoprotein-Abeta and exacerbate the amyloidogenic cascade.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Nutr

Publication Date





652 - 662


Alzheimer Disease, Amyloid beta-Peptides, Animals, Apolipoprotein B-100, Biomarkers, Blood-Brain Barrier, Brain, Dietary Fats, Disease Models, Animal, Fatty Acids, Fatty Acids, Unsaturated, Female, Membrane Proteins, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Microscopy, Occludin, Presenilin-1, Risk Factors, Tissue Distribution