Elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) is observed in many brain disorders. Obesity has been linked to ICP pathogenesis in disorders such as idiopathic intracranial pressure (IIH). We investigated the effect of diet induced obesity (DIO) on ICP and clinically relevant sequelae. Rats were fed either a control or high fat diet. Following weight gain long term ICP, headache behavior, body composition and retinal outcome were examined. Post-hoc analysis of retinal histology and molecular analysis of choroid plexus and trigeminal ganglion (TG) were performed. DIO rats demonstrated raised ICP by 55% which correlated with the abdominal fat percentage and increased non-respiratory slow waves, suggestive of altered cerebral compliance. Concurrently, DIO rats demonstrated a specific cephalic cutaneous allodynia which negatively correlated with the abdominal fat percentage. This sensitivity was associated with increased expression of headache markers in TG. Additionally, DIO rats had increased retinal nerve fiber layer thickness in vivo associated with raised ICP with a subsequent post-hoc demonstration of neuroretinal degeneration. This study demonstrates for the first time that DIO leads to raised ICP and subsequent clinically relevant symptom development. This novel model of non-traumatic raised ICP could expand the knowledge regarding disorders with elevated ICP such as IIH.

Original languageEnglish
Article number(2022) 12:9102
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Animals
  • Headache/complications
  • Intracranial Hypertension/complications
  • Intracranial Pressure/physiology
  • Obesity/complications
  • Rats
  • Rodentia


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