12 January - 20 June 2016

A diet deficient in omega 3 fatty acids can affect consecutive generations

31 July 13

According to a rodent study by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, a diet deficient in omega 3 fatty acids can have worse effects over consecutive generations, especially affecting adolescents.  The study published in Biological Psychiatry, by Moghaddam et al used a rat model to examine how second-generation deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids affected long-term health, mood and cognitive functions .  Female Sprague-Dawley rats were mated with normal chow fed males and provided with either a diet with adequate amount of n-3 PUFAs or a diet deficient in n-3 PUFAs.  The first generation rats were weaned at postnatal day 21 and males were tested on behavioural tasks to measure learning and memory, decision making, anxiety and hyperactivity.  The first generation female rats were also mated and their litters comprised of second generation rats.  Male second generation rats were subjected to the same tasks as the male first generation rats.  Moghaddam et al carried out physical examinations at weaning, early adolescence (post natal day 39-41) and adulthood (post natal day 70-73) and examined the brains of both generations.  Deficiencies of dietary n-3 PUFAs were found to produce dramatic alterations in brain concentration of fatty acids.  These were even more pronounced in the next generation.  With the reduction in DHAn-3 there was an increase in brain n-6 PUFAs.  The scientists report that although the n-3 PUFA deficient animals were in good health there were behavioural deficiencies which were more amplified in second-generation rats.  These reflected hyperactivity, increased anxiety, learning at a slower rate and impaired problem-solving abilities.  In both age groups n-3 deficiency was found to alter the expression of proteins critical for regulation of dopamine neurotransmission selectively in the dorsal striatum (DS).  Adolescents were found to have a significant increase in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expression in DS, indicating enhanced dopamine availability, which is consistent with the observed hyperactivity and enhanced goal-irrelevant activity in this age group. However, adults were found to have a small reduction in TH and a large increase in vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) expression in DS, which might indicate a homeostatic response in which VMAT2 compensates for the impact of reduced TH by increasing vesicular packaging of newly synthesized dopamine.   The scientists state that “it indicates that our diet does not merely affect us in the short term but also can affect our offspring.”

RSSL's Lipids Laboratory, part of the Investigative Analysis Team has expertise in all aspects of fat analysis and fatty acid profiling, including the determination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

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