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New research says that obesity can adversely affect your memory and learning capabilities

Another reason to hit the gym!


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As per a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, a protective blood-brain barrier can be broken down by obesity, affecting a human’s memory and learning potential.

Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that helps us in sleeping and regulates our blood pressure. It also activates receptors Adora1a and Adora2a which are present on the endothelial cells supporting healthy relationships between blood flow and brain activity. When a person becomes obese, adenosine is activated chronically in the brain, leading to problems.

In a study conducted on mice, it was observed that a high-fat diet resulting in obesity had a major impact on the minute vasculature of the hippocampus. Initially, obesity increased the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, to tiny molecules like fluorophore sodium fluorescein, or NaFl. It was also observed that muscular cells called pericytes that wrap around blood vessels in the brain to give them more strength and helped in the movement of the blood started losing their tone and became inflamed.

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Next, they developed a mouse in which they selectively knocked off Adora2a cells. After 12 weeks, when the mouse should have exhibited leaky barriers resulting into cognitive impairment; they instead showed no such symptoms.

Comparing the results of both the studies, the scientists concluded that increased permeability of blood vessels initiates the cycle of inflammation and cognitive impairment.

Dr. Alexis M. Stranahan, a neuroscientist, involved in this study, says that avoiding insulin resistance (diabetes) can actually halt the increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier and decrease in cognitive function. The concept that obesity could affect the blood-brain barrier started with people a dozen years ago when Swedish researchers found obese individuals had higher levels of the major antibody immunoglobulin G in their cerebrospinal fluid, when it should have been in their blood. It was an important finding that suggested that obesity and diabetes could enable things to get from the blood to the brain that should not, Stranaham added.


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