2014 Participants
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NAME: Joshua Leonard

PROJECT TITLE: Fructose Effects on Adult NSCs

High fructose corn syrup is used as an ingredient in many products as a sweeter. The sweetener consists primarily of fructose which has been shown to increase oxidative stress on cells via production of reactive oxygen species. Fructose can pass the blood brain barrier and affect proliferation of adult neural stem cells. Adult neural stem cells are linked to mental wellness in humans through relation to memory, learning, and behavior. Adult neural stem cells can be used as a model to study the effects fructose has on mental cognition at a cellular level and relate these changes to mental decline and mental illnesses. Immunocytochemistry and time lapse photography were used to assess the effect of fructose on differentiation, which is their development into mature neurons. Immunocytochemistry is used to identify specific protein markers expressed in certain neuronal phenotypes. The results from this investigation revealed that fructose inhibited the expression of the early neuronal marker β-TubIII, indicating that differentiation into the neuronal phenotype was reduced. Time lapse photography was used to investigate the effects of the drug on neurite length and complexity, as indicated through the number of branching points on the neurite. The experiment showed no significant effect on neurite length but noticeable decrease in branch points of the fructose cells as compared to control, indicating decreased cell complexity. These results show that fructose acts as an inhibitor for neural stem cell differentiation into phenotypes expressing β-TubIII and the maturation into complex and well differentiated adult stem cells. The consequences of these effects are lowered effectiveness of neuron function since they do not differentiate into the required phenotype for proper neuronal operation. This suggests that fructose exposure causes cognitive decline and mental defects through disruption of the central nervous system in mammalian brains. Given that fructose is in such high use today, it presents a significant health concern for mental wellness.