The mouse equivalent of a diet of cheeseburgers and fries causes inflammation in the male mouse brain. But would it do the same for females? No one had bothered studying that until Deborah Clegg, Ph.D. came along. What Clegg discovered may have profound implications for the human brain — and for how we eat.
“We knew that a junk food diet causes inflammation in the male mouse brain. We wanted to find out if the same was true for females. In humans, women are less affected in their overall health by weight gain than are men and we were hoping to discover something about this difference,” says Clegg, research scientist and assistant professor, the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
But female rodents are more challenging to work with in the lab, because they go through hormonal cycles every three-to-four days. “Females are rarely used in research because of their fluctuating hormones,” said Clegg, in an interview with BetterBrainBetterLife.com. “But we controlled for this and gave them exactly the same diet as the males. Both sexes gained exactly the same amount of weight.”