About one in every three persons worldwide suffer malnutrition, comprising two different conditions: undernutrition and overweight/obesity. Recently, changes in dietary patterns and lifestyle have brought about the occurrence of overweight in the same household or person suffering the consequences of undernutrition. This phenomenon is known as the double burden of malnutrition and is growing in developing countries and vulnerable groups. The consequences of this double malnutrition are at the moment unknown, partly due to the lack of animal models where to study them.
This project is aimed to develop a model of double malnutrition, by combining a mouse model of undernutrition (timed separation of the pups from the dam), and a model of obesity (cafeteria diet after weaning). We will study the consequences of this diet on brain development, by studying adult behavior and brain structure. Moreover, as different forms of malnutrition result in neuroinflammation, we will study whether inflammatory cells and molecules are involved in the combined effects of neonatal undernutrition and juvenile overweight on the brain. Finally, we will test in these animals the effects of social stress during a juvenile window of vulnerability in brain development, as some consequences of nutrition are only observed when the animals are challenged. We hope that our project will help identify the consequences of the double malnutrition and develop treatments to reverse its burden.