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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Biochemistry - Mental Health - Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience - Nutrition

Influence of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Status on the Way Rats Adapt to Chronic Restraint Stress
Published: Monday, July 30, 2012
Author: Marie Hennebelle et al.

by Marie Hennebelle, Laure Balasse, Alizée Latour, Gaelle Champeil-Potokar, Stéphanie Denis, Monique Lavialle, Pascale Gisquet-Verrier, Isabelle Denis, Sylvie Vancassel

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for several neuronal and cognitive functions. Altered omega-3 fatty acid status has been implicated in reduced resistance to stress and mood disorders. We therefore evaluated the effects of repeated restraint stress (6 h/day for 21 days) on adult rats fed omega-3 deficient, control or omega-3 enriched diets from conception. We measured body weight, plasma corticosterone and hippocampus glucocorticoid receptors and correlated these data with emotional and depression-like behaviour assessed by their open-field (OF) activity, anxiety in the elevated-plus maze (EPM), the sucrose preference test and the startle response. We also determined their plasma and brain membrane lipid profiles by gas chromatography. Repeated restraint stress caused rats fed a control diet to lose weight. Their plasma corticosterone increased and they showed moderate behavioural changes, with increases only in grooming (OF test) and entries into the open arms (EPM). Rats fed the omega-3 enriched diet had a lower stress-induced weight loss and plasma corticosterone peak, and reduced grooming. Rats chronically lacking omega-3 fatty acid exhibited an increased startle response, a stress-induced decrease in locomotor activity and exaggerated grooming. The brain omega-3 fatty acids increased as the dietary omega-3 fatty acids increased; diets containing preformed long-chain omega-3 fatty acid were better than diets containing the precursor alpha-linolenic acid. However, the restraint stress reduced the amounts of omega-3 incorporated. These data showed that the response to chronic restraint stress was modulated by the omega-3 fatty acid supply, a dietary deficiency was deleterious while enrichment protecting against stress.
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