Food and Behaviour Research

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Maternal dietary imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids impairs neocortical development via epoxy metabolites

Sakayori N, Kikkawa T, Tokuda H, Kiryu E, Yoshizaki K, Kawashima H, Yamada T, Arai H, Kang JX, Katagiri H, Shibata H, Innis SM, Arita M, Osumi N. (2015) Stem Cells. 34(2) 470-82. doi: 10.1002/stem.2246. Epub 2015 Nov 27. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here.


Omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are essential nutrients. Although several studies have suggested that a balanced dietary n-6:n-3 ratio is essential for brain development, the underlying cellular and molecular mechanism is poorly understood.

Here, we found that feeding pregnant mice an n-6 excess/n-3 deficient diet, which reflects modern human diets, impairs neocortical neurogenesis in the offspring. This impaired neurodevelopment occurs through a precocious fate transition of neural stem cells from the neurogenic to gliogenic lineage. A comprehensive mediator lipidomics screen revealed key mediators, epoxy metabolites, which were confirmed functionally using a neurosphere assay.

Importantly, although the offspring were raised on a well-balanced n-6:n-3 diet, they exhibited increased anxiety-related behavior in adulthood.

These findings provide compelling evidence that excess maternal consumption of n-6 PUFAs combined with insufficient intake of n-3 PUFAs causes abnormal brain development that can have long-lasting effects on the offspring's mental state. 


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