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Papers of the Week

Papers: 3 Sep 2022 - 9 Sep 2022

2022 Sep 01

Sci Rep



High-fat diet causes mechanical allodynia in the absence of injury or diabetic pathology.


Tierney JA, Uong CD, Lenert ME, Williams M, Burton MD
Sci Rep. 2022 Sep 01; 12(1):14840.
PMID: 36050326.


Understanding the interactions between diet, obesity, and diabetes is important to tease out mechanisms in painful pathology. Western diet is rich in fats, producing high amounts of circulating bioactive metabolites. However, no research has assessed how a high-fat diet (HFD) alone may sensitize an individual to non-painful stimuli in the absence of obesity or diabetic pathology. To investigate this, we tested the ability of a HFD to stimulate diet-induced hyperalgesic priming, or diet sensitization in male and female mice. Our results revealed that 8 weeks of HFD did not alter baseline pain sensitivity, but both male and female HFD-fed animals exhibited robust mechanical allodynia when exposed to a subthreshold dose of intraplantar Prostaglandin E (PGE) compared to mice on chow diet. Furthermore, calcium imaging in isolated primary sensory neurons of both sexes revealed HFD induced an increased percentage of capsaicin-responsive neurons compared to their chow counterparts. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) showed a HFD-induced upregulation of ATF3, a neuronal marker of injury, in lumbar dorsal root ganglia (DRG). This suggests that a HFD induces allodynia in the absence of a pre-existing condition or injury via dietary components. With this new understanding of how a HFD can contribute to the onset of pain, we can understand the dissociation behind the comorbidities associated with obesity and diabetes to develop pharmacological interventions to treat them more efficiently.