Alterations to cerebral perfusion, metabolite profiles, and neuronal morphology in the hippocampus and cortex of male and female mice during chronic exposure to a high-salt diet


Excess dietary salt reduces resting cerebral blood flow (CBF) and vascular reactivity, which can limit the fueling of neuronal metabolism. It is hitherto unknown whether metabolic derangements induced by high-salt-diet (HSD) exposure during adulthood are reversed by reducing salt intake. In this study, male and female mice were fed an HSD from 9 to 16 months of age, followed by a normal-salt diet (ND) thereafter until 23 months of age. Controls were continuously fed either ND or HSD. CBF and metabolite profiles were determined longitudinally by arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, respectively. HSD reduced cortical and hippocampal CBF, which recovered after dietary salt normalization, and affected hippocampal but not cortical metabolite profiles. Compared to ND, HSD increased hippocampal glutamine and phosphocreatine levels and decreased creatine and choline levels. Dietary reversal only allowed recovery of glutamine levels. Histology analyses revealed that HSD reduced the dendritic arborization and spine density of cortical and hippocampal neurons, which were not recovered after dietary salt normalization. We conclude that sustained HSD exposure throughout adulthood causes permanent structural and metabolic alterations to the mouse brain that are not fully normalized by lowering dietary salt during aging

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