Environmental Enrichment and Metformin Improve Metabolic Functions, Hippocampal Neuron Survival, and Hippocampal-Dependent Memory in High-Fat/High-Sucrose Diet-Induced Type 2 Diabetic Rats

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Background: The Western-style diet-induced type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) may eventually trigger neurodegeneration and memory impairment. Thus, it is essential to identify effective therapeutic strategies to overcome T2D complications. This study aimed to investigate the effects of environmental enrichment (EE) and metformin interventions on metabolic dysfunctions, hippocampal neuronal death, and hippocampal-dependent memory impairments in high-fat/high-sucrose (HFS) diet-induced T2D rats. Methods: Thirty-two male rats (200–250 g) were divided into four groups: C group (standard diet + conventional cage); D group (HFS diet + conventional cage); DE group (HFS diet + EE cage/6hr daily); and DM group (HFS diet + metformin + conventional cage). Body weight was measured every week. T-maze tasks, anthropometric, biochemical, histological, and morphometric parameters were measured. The expression changes of hippocampal genes were also analyzed. Results: The anthropometric and biochemical parameters were improved in DE and DM groups compared with the D group. DE and DM groups had significantly higher T-maze percentages than the D group. These groups also had better histological and morphometric parameters than the D group. The interventions of EE and metformin enhanced the expression of hippocampal genes related to neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity (BDNF/TrkB binding, PI3K-Akt, Ras–MAPK, PLCγ–Ca2+, and LTP). Conclusion: Environmental enrichment (EE) and metformin improved metabolic functions, hippocampal neuron survival, and hippocampal-dependent memory in HFS diet-induced T2D rats. The underlying mechanisms of these interventions involved the expression of genes that regulate neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number480
Number of pages22
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • BDNF-TrkB signaling pathways
  • environmental enrichment
  • hippocampus
  • memory impairment
  • metformin
  • type 2 diabetes

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