Perinatal Western-style diet exposure associated with decreased microglial counts throughout the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus in Japanese macaques

Samantha Papadakis, Jacqueline R. Thompson, Eric Feczko, Oscar Miranda-Dominguez, Geoffrey A. Dunn, Matthew Selby, A. J. Mitchell, Elinor L. Sullivan, Damien A. Fair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Perinatal exposure to a high-fat, high-sugar Western-style diet (WSD) is associated with altered neural circuitry in the melanocortin system. This association may have an underlying inflammatory component, as consumption of a WSD during pregnancy can lead to an elevated inflammatory environment. Our group previously demonstrated that prenatal WSD exposure was associated with increased markers of inflammation in the placenta and fetal hypothalamus in Japanese macaques. In this follow-up study, we sought to determine whether this heightened inflammatory state persisted into the postnatal period, as prenatal exposure to inflammation has been shown to reprogram offspring immune function and long-term neuroinflammation would present a potential means for prolonged disruptions to microglia-mediated neuronal circuit formation. Neuroinflammation was approximated in 1- yr-old offspring by counting resident microglia and peripherally derived macrophages in the region of the hypothalamus examined in the fetal study, the arcuate nucleus (ARC). Microglia and macrophages were immunofluorescently stained with their shared marker, ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1 (Iba1), and quantified in 11 regions along the rostral-caudal axis of the ARC. A mixed-effects model revealed main effects of perinatal diet (P = 0.011) and spatial location (P = 0.003) on Iba1-stained cell count. Perinatal WSD exposure was associated with a slight decrease in the number of Iba1-stained cells, and cells were more densely located in the center of the ARC. These findings suggest that the heightened inflammatory state experienced in utero does not persist postnatally. This inflammatory response trajectory could have important implications for understanding how neurodevelopmental disorders progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-260
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 the American Physiological Society.


  • arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus
  • high-fat high-sugar Western-style diet
  • microglia
  • neuroinflammation
  • nonhuman primates

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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