Lack of omega-3 in the body explains depressive behavior


01/02/2011

As the lack of maternal essential fatty acids affect the offspring is not yet fully understood by scientists. Insufficient amount of the same omega-3 fatty acids in the diet explains many disturbances in the body. Researchers from Inserm and institutions INRA, together with colleagues from Spain, conducted a series of tests, studying mice with a limited content of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. They found that low levels of omega-3 in the diet has a detrimental effect on synaptic functions and emotional behaviors.

In industrialized countries, the rations were enough people are poor in essential fatty acids since the beginning of XX century. Dietary ratio between omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 increased continuously throughout the XX century. These fatty acids are "essential" fats because the body can not synthesize them from nothing. They must, therefore, enter the body through food and their dietary balance is needed to maintain optimal brain functions.

Olivier Manzoni, a researcher at the Institute of Neuroscience in Marseille, and Sophie Lei from the Institute of Nutrition and Neuroscience in Bordeaux, with his colleagues hypothesized that chronic malnutrition during intrauterine development of the fetus, may later influence synaptic activity that is responsible for emotional behavior (depression , anxiety) in adulthood.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers studied the behavior of mice that were fed a long period of time, food containing a balanced amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They found that a lack of omega-3 in particular broke of neuron communication. The researchers found that only the cannabinoid receptors (cannabinoid), which play a strategic role in neurotransmission, undergo a complete breakdown of functions. This of neuron dysfunction was ACCOMPANIED depressive behavior in mice consuming low levels of fatty acids.

Among the mice deficient of omega-3 usual effects produced by activation of cannabinoid receptors, both synaptic and on behavioral levels, no longer appear. Thus, the CB1R receptors lose their synaptic activity and the antioxidant effect of cannabinoids disappears.

Therefore, the scientists found that mice exposed to diets low in omega-3, synaptic plasticity, which is dependent on CB1R cannabinoid receptors, broken, at least in the two structures responsible for the reward, motivation and emotional regulation: the prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens. These parts of the brain contain a lot of CB1R cannabinoid receptors and have important functional connections with each other.

"Our results can now confirm the clinical and epidemiological studies that found an association between omega-3/omega-6 imbalance and mood disorder" - explained the researchers. "In order to accurately determine whether a lack of omega-3 cause of these effects will require further study of neuropsychiatric disorders."

In conclusion, the authors noted that their results are presented for the first time the biological components that explain the observed relationship between diet poor omega-3, which is very widespread in the industrialized world, and mood disorders such as, for example, depression.

Original: Eurekalert Translation: M. Potter


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