The effect of high fat diet on cerebrovascular health and pathology: A species comparative review

Benjamin Zimmerman, Payel Kundu, William D. Rooney, Jacob Raber

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In both humans and animal models, consumption of a high-saturated-fat diet has been linked to vascular dysfunction and cognitive impairments. Laboratory animals provide excellent models for more invasive high-fat-diet-related research. However, the physiological differences between humans and common animal models in terms of how they react metabolically to high-fat diets need to be considered. Here, we review the factors that may affect the translatability of mechanistic research in animal models, paying special attention to the effects of a high-fat diet on vascular outcomes. We draw attention to the dissociation between metabolic syndrome and dyslipidemia in rodents, unlike the state in humans, where the two commonly occur. We also discuss the differential vulnerability between species to the metabolic and vascular effects of macronutrients in the diet. Findings from animal studies are better interpreted as modeling specific aspects of dysfunction. We conclude that the differences between species provide an opportunity to explore why some species are protected from the detrimental aspects of high-fat-diet-induced dysfunction, and to translate these findings into benefits for human health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3406
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Cardiovascular health
  • Cerebrovasculature
  • Cognition
  • High-fat diet
  • Metabolism
  • Species differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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