Obesity leads to brain inflammation, and low testosterone makes it worse

Low testosterone worsens the harmful effects of obesity in the nervous system, a new study in mice finds. The results will be presented Monday at The Endocrine Society's 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

"Low testosterone and obesity are common in aging men, and each is associated with and Alzheimer's disease," said the study's lead investigator, Anusha Jayaraman, PhD, of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. "Our new findings demonstrate that obesity and low testosterone combine to not only increase the risk of diabetes but also damage the brain."

The study – which was conducted in the laboratory of Christian J. Pike, PhD, Professor in the Davis School of Gerontology at USC and funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Aging – consisted of three groups of male mice that received a high-fat diet (60 percent of calories were from fat) to induce obesity. Each group had eight mice and varied by testosterone status. One group had normal testosterone levels, and the second group underwent surgical removal of the testes so that the mice had . The third group also underwent castration but then received testosterone treatment through a capsule implanted beneath the skin.

The high-fat diet, Jayaraman reported, resulted in obesity and evidence of diabetes – abnormally (sugar) levels and poor glucose tolerance, which is the ability to clear glucose from the bloodstream. Compared with the group that had normal testosterone levels, the testosterone-deficient mice had more body fat, higher and poorer , she said.

After , brain tissues from the mice underwent analysis for changes. The brains of showed substantial inflammation and were less able to support nerve cell growth and survival, according to Jayaraman. These damaging effects of diet-induced obesity were significantly worse in mice with low testosterone, she said, adding that control groups of mice fed a normal diet did not show these changes.

"Our findings suggest that low testosterone and obesity interact to regulate inflammation of the nervous system, which may increase the risk of disorders such as type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease," she said.

Because many of the negative outcomes of the high-fat diet were eased in the group of mice that received testosterone therapy, Jayaraman said that "testosterone treatment may be useful in reducing the harmful effects of obesity and low testosterone on the nervous system."

Related Stories

For some men, it's 'T' time—test or no test

date Jun 03, 2013

Prescriptions for testosterone therapy have increased significantly during the last 10 years, according to a study in the current issue of JAMA Internal Medicine conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Medica ...

Cocoa may help fight obesity-related inflammation

date Jun 12, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—A few cups of hot cocoa may not only fight off the chill of a winter's day, but they could also help obese people better control inflammation-related diseases, such as diabetes, according to Penn State ...

Recommended for you

A high-fat diet may alleviate mitochondrial disease

date Jun 30, 2015

Mice that have a genetic version of mitochondrial disease can easily be mistaken for much older animals by the time they are nine months old: they have thinning grey hair, osteoporosis, poor hearing, infertility, ...

Cheek muscles hold up better than leg muscles in space

date Jun 30, 2015

It is well known that muscles need resistance (gravity) to maintain optimal health, and when they do not have this resistance, they deteriorate. A new report published in the July 2015 issue of The FASEB Journal, however, sugges ...

Sialic acid: A key to unlocking brain disorders

date Jun 30, 2015

A new report published in the July 2015 issue of The FASEB Journal suggests that a common molecule found in higher animals, including humans, affects brain structure. This molecule may play a significant role in how brain ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.