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J Psychiatr Res. 2009 Mar;43(6):656-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.09.011. Epub 2008 Nov 4.

Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency during perinatal development increases serotonin turnover in the prefrontal cortex and decreases midbrain tryptophan hydroxylase-2 expression in adult female rats: dissociation from estrogenic effects.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 231 Albert Sabin Way, Cincinnati OH 45267-0559, United States. robert.mcnamara@psychiatry.uc.edu

Abstract

A dysregulation in central serotonin neurotransmission and omega-3 fatty acid deficiency have been implicated in the pathophysiology of major depression. To determine the effects of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency on indices of serotonin neurotransmission in the adult rat brain, female rats were fed diets with or without the omega-3 fatty acid precursor alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) during perinatal (E0-P90), post-weaning (P21-P90), and post-pubescent (P60-130) development. Ovariectomized (OVX) rats and OVX rats with cyclic estrogen treatment were also examined. Serotonin (5-HT) and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) content, and fatty acid composition were determined in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and tryptophan hydroxylase-2 (TPH-2), serotonin transporter, and 5-HT(1A) autoreceptor mRNA expression were determined in the midbrain. ALA deficiency during perinatal (-62%, p=0.0001), post-weaning (-34%, p=0.0001), and post-pubertal (-10%, p=0.0001) development resulted in a graded reduction in adult PFC docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) composition. Relative to controls, perinatal DHA-deficient rats exhibited significantly lower PFC 5-HT content (-65%, p=0.001), significant greater 5-HIAA content (+15%, p=0.046), and a significant greater 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio (+73%, p=0.001). Conversely, post-weaning DHA-deficient rats exhibited significantly greater PFC 5-HT content (+12%, p=0.03), no change in 5-HIAA content, and a significantly smaller 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio (-9%, p=0.01). Post-pubertal DHA-deficient and OXV rats did not exhibit significant alterations in PFC 5-HT or 5-HIAA content. Only perinatal DHA-deficient rats exhibited a significant reduction in midbrain TPH-2 mRNA expression (-29%, p=0.03). These preclinical data support a causal link between perinatal omega-3 fatty acid deficiency and reduced central serotonin synthesis in adult female rats that is independent of ovarian hormones including estrogen.

PMID:
18986658
PMCID:
PMC2679262
DOI:
10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.09.011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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