Food and Behaviour Research

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Dietary omega-3 fatty acids and ganglion cell function

Nguyen CT, Vingrys AJ, Bui BV. (2008) Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 49(8) 3586-94. Epub 2008 May 9 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here


PURPOSE: Diet-induced deficiencies in Omega-3 (omega-3) fatty acids are well known to alter photoreceptor function. In this study, the broader functional changes in a diversity of retinal neurons were considered.

METHODS: Sprague-Dawley dams were fed either omega-3-sufficient (omega-3(+), n = 21) or -deficient (omega-3(-), n = 19) diets 5 weeks before conception, with the pups continued on the mothers' diet. After 20 weeks of age, electroretinograms (ERGs) were recorded by using protocols that isolate separate cellular generators, including; photoreceptors (PIII), ON-bipolar cells (PII), and ganglion/amacrine cells (STR). At the brightest energies, rod and cone responses were isolated with a paired-flash paradigm. Retinal tissue (omega-3(+), n = 5; omega-3(-), n = 5) was harvested at 23 weeks of age for fatty acid assays with thin layer and gas liquid chromatography.

RESULTS: Omega-3 deficiency caused a 48.6% decrease in total retinal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This change induced significant amplitude decreases only in the rod PII (-8.2%) and positive (p)STR components (-27.4%), with widespread delays in all signals (PIII 5.7%, PII 13.6%, pSTR 7.6%, and negative [n]STR 8.3%). Omega-3 deficiency exerted its greatest effects on signals originating in the inner retina (pSTR).

CONCLUSIONS: Increasing dietary omega-3 has beneficial effects across the retina, with the greatest improvement occurring in ganglion cell function.