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Time-dependent effects of high-fat diet on cognition and cerebral insulin signaling: window for recovery and potential therapeutic target. Mechanisms of ageing and development While high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity is a major threat to global public health, the effect of HFD on cognition and insulin signaling during ageing remains controversial. The aim of this study was to characterize the dynamic alterations in cognition and cerebral insulin signaling during 6-month HFD consumption, and to investigate the potential therapeutic target and optimal timing to rescue obesity-related cognitive deficits. In the present study, impaired memory retention induced by 2-month HFD was recovered after 4 months on HFD. Prolonged (6-month) HFD did not further enhance tau hyperphosphorylation and β-amyloid deposition, which was consistent with the alleviation of memory retention. In brain insulin signaling, 2-month HFD increased IRS-1 and p-IRS-1(Ser307)/IRS-1, while decreasing pAKT(Ser473)/AKT, PI3K and mTOR; 4-month HFD decreased IRS-1 and pAKT(Ser473)/AKT, while increasing AKT; 6-month HFD increased IRS-1, pAKT(Ser473)/AKT, and mTOR, while decreasing p-IRS-1(Ser307)/IRS-1, PI3K and AKT. Notably, bioinformatic analysis revealed a rhythmic process presented only in 4-month HFD group, with Srebf1 emerging as a link between circadian rhythms and insulin signaling pathway. These results suggest that prolonged HFD prevents further cognitive decline and the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD)-related pathologies during ageing. Moreover, there may be a window for recovery, in which Srebf1 acts as a self-recovery switch to address obesity-related cognitive disorders in elders. 10.1016/j.mad.2024.111955