After the discovery of the harmful effects of fructose on certain metabolic parameters, it is the brains of adolescents that seem to suffer from this sugar. A study in animals shows that a diet rich in fructose during adolescence influences the stress axis and promotes the development of depressive-type behaviors.
The consumption of fructose, this sugar naturally present in fruits, but also widely used in the form of high fructose glucose syrup to sweeten foods and drinks, is particularly consumed by adolescents.
Several studies have documented various harmful metabolic effects for this sugar (insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, etc.), but it also seems to stimulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, also called the “stress axis”.
Adolescence, a fragile period
However, adolescence is a critical period for the maturation of this axis. Hence the hypothesis that the high consumption of fructose at this time could lead to long-term dysfunction of the stress axis. This is what researchers from Emory University in Atlanta wanted to assess. They show that, unlike adult rats, pups exposed to a diet high in fructose during the peri-adolescent period develop, in adulthood, different symptoms in response to stress:
– anxiety-like symptoms, in the elevated maze test
– depressive-like behavior during forced swimming
– higher basal cortisone levels, but a blunted response in the forced swim test.
They also highlight certain alterations in a genetic pathway involved in the stress response.
Taken together, the data leads them to conclude that a diet high in fructose during adolescence could exacerbate depressive behaviors and modify the ability to respond to stress.
Harell CS: Developmental high-fructose diet consumption increases depressive-like and anxiety-like behavior and remodels the hypothalamic transcriptome. Neuroscience.