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Long-term effects of perinatal essential fatty acid deficiency on anxiety-related behavior in mice.

Journal article
Authors Vilborg Palsdottir
Jan-Eric Månsson
Maria K. Blomqvist
Emil Egecioglu
Bob Olsson
Published in Behavioral neuroscience
Volume 126
Issue 2
Pages 361-9
ISSN 1939-0084
Publication year 2012
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Pages 361-9
Language en
Keywords essential fatty acid deficiency, maternal diet, anxiety, elevated plus maze, light-dark transition
Subject categories Neurochemistry, Physiology and nutrition, Children


Dietary essential fatty acids have been shown to regulate behavioral and cognitive functions in rodents. However, the long-term effect on behavior, besides memory and learning, of essential fatty acid deficiency (EFAD), i.e., lack of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids, during the perinatal period has not been investigated. Therefore, pregnant C57Bl/6 mice were given either an EFAD or an isoenergetic control diet from gestational day 16 and throughout lactation. The female offspring were given standard chow from 3 weeks of age, and at 12 to 14 weeks of age, open-field, object recognition, light-dark transition, elevated plus maze, and social interaction tests were performed. The brain glycerophospholipid fatty acid composition was investigated in 3-week-old and adult offspring by gas chromatography. The differences observed in behavior were indicative of lower anxiety in the EFAD mice compared to controls illustrated by more time spent in the open arms of the elevated plus maze (+ 41%, p < .05) and in the light compartment in the light-dark transition test (+ 63%, p < .05). The proportion of total n-3 fatty acids, especially 22:6n-3 in the brain, was lower with a compensatory increase in the proportion of total n-6 fatty acids, foremost 22:5n-6, in the EFAD mice compared to controls at 3 weeks of age. In the adult brains the fatty acid composition was normalized. In conclusion, our data show that EFAD during the perinatal period results in short-term alterations of fatty acid composition in brain and decreased anxiety in adult life.

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