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Brain Res. 2011 Apr 18;1385:144-50. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.02.043. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

Effect of fish oil and coconut fat supplementation on depressive-type behavior and corticosterone levels of prenatally stressed male rats.

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Departamento de Psicobiologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


Prenatal stress (PNS) during critical periods of brain development has been associated with numerous behavioral and/or mood disorders in later life. These outcomes may result from changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity, which, in turn, can be modulated by environmental factors, such as nutritional status. In this study, the adult male offspring of dams exposed to restraint stress during the last semester of pregnancy and fed different diets were evaluated for depressive-like behavior in the forced swimming test and for the corticosterone response to the test. Female Wistar rats were allocated to one of three groups: regular diet, diet supplemented with coconut fat or with fish oil, offered during pregnancy and lactation. When pregnancy was confirmed, they were distributed into control or stress groups. Stress consisted of restraint and bright light for 45 min, three times per day, in the last week of pregnancy. The body weight of the adult offspring submitted to PNS was lower than that of controls. In the forced swimming test, time of immobility was reduced and swimming was increased in PNS rats fed fish oil and plasma corticosterone levels immediately after the forced swimming test were lower in PNS rats fed regular diet than their control counterparts; this response was reduced in control rats whose mothers were fed fish oil and coconut fat. The present results indicate that coconut fat and fish oil influenced behavioral and hormonal responses to the forced swimming test in both control and PNS adult male rats.

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