Stress exposure alters brain mRNA expression of the genes involved in insulin signalling, an effect modified by a high fat/high fructose diet and cinnamon supplement


In occidental societies, high fat and high sugar diets often coincide with episodes of stress. The association is likely to modify brain energy control. Brain insulin signalling is rarely studied in stressed individuals consuming high fat diets. Furthermore the effects of cinnamon supplement are not known in these conditions. Therefore, we exposed rats, over a 12-week period, to a control (C) or a high fat/high fructose (HF/HFr) diet that induces peripheral insulin resistance. A cinnamon supplement (C+CN and HF/HFr +CN) was added or not. After diet exposure, one group of rats was exposed to a 30-min restraint followed by a 10-min open-field test, their combination featuring a moderate stressor, the other rats staying unstressed in their home cages. The insulin signalling in hippocampus and frontal cortex was studied through the mRNA expression of the following genes: insulin receptor (Ir), insulin receptor substrate (Irs1), glucose transporters (Glut1 and Glut3), glycogen synthase (Gys1) and their modulators, Akt1 and Pten. In C rats, stress enhanced the expression of Ir, Irs1, Glut1, Gys1 and Akt1 mRNA. In C+CN rats, stress induced an increase in Pten but a decrease in Gys1 mRNA expression. In HF/HFr rats, stress was associated with an increase in Pten mRNA expression. In HF/HFr+CN rats, stress increased Pten mRNA expression but also decreased Gys1 mRNA expression. This suggests that a single moderate stress favours energy refilling mechanisms, an effect blunted by a previous HF/HFr diet and cinnamon supplement.