Whole and refined grains change behavior and reduce brain derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-3 in rats

Basem H. Elesawy*, Walaa F. Alsanie, Mubarak Ali Algahtany, Jawaher M. AL- Ashkhari, Aya K. Alyarobi, Hussein F. Sakr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In most of the world, wheat is one of the main staple foods, and is also widely used in livestock feed. In the current study, we investigated the effects of wheat grain consumption on the rat behavior and neurogenesis markers. Thirty male rats were divided into three equal groups (n = 10). Group 1 was the control group fed with chow diet (Carbohydrates 63%, fat 13% and protein 24%), the Group 2 rats were fed with whole grains and the Group 3 rats were fed with refined grains. After 12 weeks, we measured the hippocampal and prefrontal cortical brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), 5-hydroxytryptamine, dopamine, norepinephrine, malondialdehyde (MDA) and reduced glutathione (GSH) levels. Also, we evaluated the rat behavior by forced swimming test (FST) and elevated plus maze (EPM) test. Additionally, we measured serum level of glucose, lipid profile, insulin and cortisol. Weight gain at the end of the study was measured in each group. The rats on a diet of whole and refined grains had low BDNF, NT-3, norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin significantly (p <.01) in both the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex as compared to control rats. Moreover, the MDA increased significantly with significant reduction in GSH versus the control rats. Moreover, in response to grain consumption, the performance in FST showed a significant (p <.01) shortage in the latency of the attempts to escape as well as a significant prolongation (p <.01) in behavioral immobility as compared to control rats with significant (p <.05) prolongation in time spent in closed arm in EPM. An exclusive diet of either whole or refined grain in a rat model induced anxiety and depressive behaviors and negatively affected the BDNF and NT-3 and modulated the level of the neurotransmitters with significant shift in their behavior. Practical applications: Grains are considered the major caloric source all over the world that may predispose to the development of chronic diseases. In this research, we evaluated the role of grains in modulating the rate of production of neurogenic factors in rats.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13867
JournalJournal of Food Biochemistry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • BDNF
  • NT-3
  • behavior
  • refined grains
  • whole grains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Biophysics
  • Pharmacology
  • Cell Biology


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