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Fat Intake Affects Astrocyte Function


Senior Member

"The researchers then monitored the effects the diets had on large, branching cells in the brain called astrocytes. These cells are not neurons themselves, but they can regulate neurons. Their activity has been linked to both increasing and decreasing inflammation, and they've been found to play a role in Parkinson's disease.

This study looked at the ability of astrocytes to trigger the release of chemicals known as gliotransmitters, which work to stimulate the neural pathways that control how the stomach expands and contracts in the presence of food. It found that the astrocytes were the most active after three to five days of the high fat/calorie diet, during which time they worked correctly to ramp down calorie consumption after a meal. However at around day 10, the cells began to malfunction.

"Over time, astrocytes seem to desensitize to the high-fat food," said study coauthor Kirsteen Browning. "Around 10-14 days of eating a high-fat/calorie diet, astrocytes seem to fail to react and the brain’s ability to regulate calorie intake seems to be lost. This disrupts the signaling to the stomach and delays how it empties.”"

Might this explain some gut related problems some PWME have? ME might cause the same changes to astrocytes that fat intake does, even on a low-fat diet.

Aside from changes in hunger signals, this also shows how subtle changes in astrocyte functions can affect body functions. Maybe astrocytes or other glial cells can also affect muscle cells, endothelial cells, etc. How can researchers solve ME through logic when they know so little about how the brain and body work?

It would be nice if someone followed up that research using the fatty acids separately, to see which ones caused the changes, which might reveal the mechanism involved (membrane properties or whatever).