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Coconut oil and enriched environment: effects on memory in nourished and overnourished rats
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  • Maryane Gabriela Tavares,
  • Débora de Cássia da Silva,
  • Regina de Deus Benevides,
  • Camila Simões,
  • Manuella Hornsby,
  • Angela Amancio-dos-Santos
Maryane Gabriela Tavares
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
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Débora de Cássia da Silva
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
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Regina de Deus Benevides
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
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Camila Simões
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
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Manuella Hornsby
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
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Angela Amancio-dos-Santos
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abstract

Background: Postnatal overnutrition has been associated with lasting impairment of cognitive function. On the other hand, virgin coconut oil (CO) and environmental enrichment (EE) have been associated with the improvement of memory function. Objectives: To evaluate whether CO and EE could counteract any possible memory impairment caused by overnutrition during rats’ postnatal period. Methods: Rats were suckled in litters of either 9 (N, nourished) or 3 (ON, overnourished) pups. At 7 to 30 days of life, N and ON animals were treated with CO (10 ml/kg/d) or vehicle (V). At 36 days old, rats were exposed to EE during a 4-week period. Recognition memory was investigated in young and adult groups to evaluate rats’ memory after CO supplementation period and after exposure to an EE, respectively. Lastly, murinometric evaluation and blood collection were performed. Results: ON young rats displayed a treatment-dependent impairment of memory (p < 0.001). Additionally, CO coupled with overnutrition had age-dependent effects on memory. At adulthood, CO&ON rats were not able to recognize novel object placement (novel versus familiar, p > 0.05); however, CO&ON rats that were exposed to EE performed this task successfully (p < 0.0001). Conclusions: The etiology of diseases characterized by memory impairment can date back to lactation. Nutrition during this critical period can influence cognitive function. Early-life overnutrition, coupled with CO, has age-dependent effects on recognition memory. Our data suggests EE can rescue the memory impairment found in CO&ON adult rats.