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  Preliminary evidence for an association between intake of high‐fat high‐sugar diet, variations in peripheral dopamine precursor availability and dopamine‐dependent cognition in humans

Hartmann, H., Pauli, L., Janssen, L., Huhn, S., Ceglarek, U., & Horstmann, A. (2020). Preliminary evidence for an association between intake of high‐fat high‐sugar diet, variations in peripheral dopamine precursor availability and dopamine‐dependent cognition in humans. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 32(12): e12917. doi:10.1111/jne.12917.

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Hartmann, Hendrik1, 2, Author           
Pauli, Larissa2, 3, Author           
Janssen, Lieneke2, 3, Author           
Huhn, Sebastian2, 4, Author           
Ceglarek, Uta5, Author
Horstmann, Annette1, 2, 3, 6, Author           
1Collaborative Research Center Obesity Mechanisms, Institute of Biochemistry, University of Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
2Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634549              
3Integrated Research and Treatment Center Adiposity Diseases, University of Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
4Department of Molecular Systems Biology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UfZ), Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
5Institute of Laboratory Medicine, Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics (ILM), University of Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
6Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland, ou_persistent22              


Free keywords: Acute phenylalanine/tyrosine depletion; Dopamine; High fat and sugar diet; Reinforcement learning; Working memory
 Abstract: Obesity is associated with alterations in dopaminergic transmission and cognitive function. Rodent studies suggest that diets rich in saturated fat and refined sugars (HFS) change the dopamine system independent of excessive body weight. However, the impact of HFS on the human brain has not been investigated. Here, we compared the effect of dietary dopamine depletion on dopamine‐dependent cognitive task performance between two groups differing in habitual intake of dietary fat and sugar. Specifically, we used a double‐blind within‐subject crossover design to compare the effect of acute phenylalanine/tyrosine depletion (APTD) on a reinforcement learning and a working memory task, in two groups that are on opposite ends of the spectrum of self‐reported HFS intake (low vs. high intake: LFS vs. HFS group). We tested 31 healthy young women matched for BMI (mostly normal weight to overweight) and IQ. Depletion of peripheral precursors of dopamine reduced the working memory specific performance on the operation span task (OSPAN) in the LFS, but not in the HFS group (p = 0.016). Learning from positive and negative reinforcement (probabilistic selection task: PST) was increased in both diet groups after dopamine depletion (p = 0.049). As secondary exploratory research question we measured peripheral dopamine precursor availability (pDAP) at baseline as an estimate for central dopamine levels. The HFS group had a significantly higher pDAP at baseline compared to the LFS group (p = 0.025). Our data provides first evidence that the intake of HFS is associated with changes in dopamine precursor availability, which is suggestive of changes in central dopamine levels in humans. The observed associations are present in a sample of normal to overweight participants, i.e. in the absence of obesity, suggesting that the consumption of HFS might already be associated with altered behaviors. Alternatively, the effects of HFS diet and obesity might be independent.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2020-11-032020-12
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: -
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1111/jne.12917
Other: epub 2020
PMID: 33270945
 Degree: -



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Project name : -
Grant ID : 01E01501
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Funding organization : Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
Project name : -
Grant ID : 209933838
Funding program : -
Funding organization : Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
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Grant ID : -
Funding program : -
Funding organization : Projekt DEAL

Source 1

Title: Journal of Neuroendocrinology
  Other : J. Neuroendocrinol.
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: Eynsham, Oxon, UK : Oxford University Press
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 32 (12) Sequence Number: e12917 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 0953-8194
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925575990