Diet-induced hypothalamic inflammation, which leads to hypothalamic dysfunction and a loss of regulation of energy balance, is emerging as a potential driver of obesity. Excessive intake of long-chain saturated fatty acids is held to be the causative dietary component in hypothalamic inflammation. This review summarizes current evidence on the role of long-chain saturated fatty acids in promoting hypothalamic inflammation and the related induction of central insulin and leptin insensitivity. Particularly, the present review focuses on the molecular mechanisms linking long-chain saturated fatty acids and hypothalamic inflammation, emphasizing the metabolic fate of fatty acids and the resulting lipotoxicity, which is a key driver of hypothalamic dysfunction. In conclusion, long-chain saturated fatty acids are key nutrients that promote hypothalamic inflammation and dysfunction by fostering the build-up of lipotoxic lipid species, such as ceramide. Furthermore, when long-chain saturated fatty acids are consumed in combination with high levels of refined carbohydrates, the proinflammatory effects are exacerbated via a mechanism that relies on the formation of advanced glycation end products.
- advanced glycation end products
- hypothalamic inflammation
- long chain saturated fatty acids