High-fat diet-induced diabetes leads to vascular alterations, pericyte reduction, and perivascular depletion of microglia in a 6-OHDA toxin model of Parkinson disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Diabetes has been recognized as a risk factor contributing to the incidence and progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Although several hypotheses suggest a number of different mechanisms underlying the aggravation of PD caused by diabetes, less attention has been paid to the fact that diabetes and PD share pathological microvascular alterations in the brain. The characteristics of the interaction of diabetes in combination with PD at the vascular interface are currently not known. Methods: We combined a high-fat diet (HFD) model of diabetes mellitus type 2 (DMT2) with the 6-OHDA lesion model of PD in male mice. We analyzed the association between insulin resistance and the achieved degree of dopaminergic nigrostriatal pathology. We further assessed the impact of the interaction of the two pathologies on motor deficits using a battery of behavioral tests and on microglial activation using immunohistochemistry. Vascular pathology was investigated histologically by analyzing vessel density and branching points, pericyte density, blood–brain barrier leakage, and the interaction between microvessels and microglia in the striatum. Results: Different degrees of PD lesion were obtained resulting in moderate and severe dopaminergic cell loss. Even though the HFD paradigm did not affect the degree of nigrostriatal lesion in the acute toxin-induced PD model used, we observed a partial aggravation of the motor performance of parkinsonian mice by the diet. Importantly, the combination of a moderate PD pathology and HFD resulted in a significant pericyte depletion, an absence of an angiogenic response, and a significant reduction in microglia/vascular interaction pointing to an aggravation of vascular pathology. Conclusion: This study provides the first evidence for an interaction of DMT2 and PD at the brain microvasculature involving changes in the interaction of microglia with microvessels. These pathological changes may contribute to the pathological mechanisms underlying the accelerated progression of PD when associated with diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number175
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was supported by the Swedish Parkinson Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Endocrinology and Diabetes


  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pericytes
  • Perivascular microglia
  • Vascular alterations


Dive into the research topics of 'High-fat diet-induced diabetes leads to vascular alterations, pericyte reduction, and perivascular depletion of microglia in a 6-OHDA toxin model of Parkinson disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this