Omega-3s and Behavior

July 21/Porto Alegre, Brazil/Pain & Central Nervous System Week -- According to a study from Porto Alegre, Brazil, "Essential omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 3) are crucial to brain development and function, being relevant for behavioral performance. In the present study, we examined the influence of dietary omega 3 in the development of the glutamatergic system and on behavior parameters in rats."

"Female rats received isocaloric diets, either with omega-3 (omega-3 group) or a omega-3 deficient diet (D group). In ontogeny experiments of their litters, hippocampal immunocontent of ionotropic NMDA and AMPA glutamatergic receptors subunits (NR2 A/B and GluR1, respectively) and the alpha isoform of the calcium-calmodulin protein kinase type II (alpha CaMKII) were evaluated. Additionally, hippocampal [H-3]glutamate binding and uptake were assessed. Behavioral performance was evaluated when the litters were adult (60 days old), through the open-field, plus-maze, inhibitory avoidance and flinch-jump tasks. The D group showed decreased immunocontent of all proteins analyzed at two days of life (P2) in comparison with the omega 3 group, although the difference disappeared at 21 days of life (except for alpha CaMKII, which content normalized at 60 days old). The same pattern was found for [H-3]glutamate binding, whereas [H-3]glutamate uptake was not affected. The D group also showed memory deficits in the inhibitory avoidance, increased in the exploratory pattern in open-field, and anxiety-like behavior in plus-maze. Taken together, our results suggest that dietary omega-3 content is relevant for glutamatergic system development and for behavioral performance in adulthood," wrote J.D. Moreira and colleagues.

The researchers concluded, "The putative correlation among the neurochemical and behavioral alterations caused by dietary omega-3 deficiency is discussed."

Moreira and colleagues published the results of their research in Neurochemistry International ("Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deprivation Affects Ontogeny of Glutamatergic Synapses in Rats: Relevance for Behavior Alterations." Neurochemistry International, 2010;56(6-7):753-759).

For additional information, contact J.D. Moreira, University of Fed Rio Grande do Sul, ICBS, Biochemistry Postgraduate Program, Dept. of Biochemistry, Ramiro Barcelos 2600 Anexo, BR-90035003 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.

From the August 2, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition