Vulnerability to dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid deficiency after exposure to early stress in rats
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The exposure to adverse events early in life may affect brain development. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) deficiency has been linked to the development of mood and anxiety disorders. The aim of this study was to examine the interaction between variations in the early environment (handling or maternal separation) and the chronic exposure to a nutritional n-3 PUFA deficiency on locomotor activity, sucrose preference, forced swimming test and on serum and hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. Rats were randomized into Non-handled (NH), Neonatal Handled (H) and Maternal Separated (MS) groups. Pups were removed from their dams (incubator at 32°C on postnatal days (PND) 1-10) during 10 min/day (H) or 3h/day (MS). On PND 35, males were subdivided into diets adequate or deficient in n-3 PUFA for 15 weeks. H and MS gained weight differently, and animals receiving the n-3 PUFA deficient diet gained less weight. MS displayed a higher food consumption and higher consumption of sucrose solution during the second hour of exposure to the sucrose preference test. No differences were observed in the swimming test. H group had increased locomotion and showed a higher response to amfepramone. No significant effect was observed on serum BDNF levels. BDNF protein levels were decreased in animals receiving the n-3 PUFA deficient diet. We observed that early life environment and a mild n-3 PUFA deficiency are able to affect several behavioral aspects (food and sucrose consumption and locomotor response), and lead to a differential hippocampal BDNF metabolism in adult life.
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