Obesity, characterized by increased adiposity that develops when energy intake outweighs expenditure, is rapidly becoming a serious health crisis that affects millions of people worldwide and is associated with severe comorbid disorders including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes. Obesity is also associated with the dysregulation of central neurocircuits involved in the control of autonomic, metabolic, and cognitive functions. Systemic inflammation associated with diet-induced obesity (DIO) has been proposed to be responsible for the development of these comorbidities as well as the dysregulation of central neurocircuits. A growing body of evidence suggests, however, that exposure to a high-fat diet (HFD) may cause neuroinflammation and astroglial activation even before systemic inflammation develops, which may be sufficient to cause dysregulation of central neurocircuits involved in energy homeostasis before the development of obesity. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current literature exploring astroglial-dependent modulation of central circuits following exposure to HFD and DIO, including not only dysregulation of neurocircuits involved in energy homeostasis and feeding behavior, but also the dysregulation of learning, memory, mood, and reward pathways.
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