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Krill oil may benefit brain health, ease depression symptoms: Animal data

By Stephen DANIELLS , 09-Apr-2013

Daily consumption of krill oil may boost learning and working memory in lab animals, and display antidepressant-like effects, according to a new study from Aker BioMarine.

Lab rats who received daily krill oil supplements (Superba krill oil, Aker) performed better in cognitive tests, compared to control animals, according to findings published in Lipids in Health and Disease.

In addition, krill oil matched the anti-depressive substance Imipramine for preventing resignation/depression during the experiments, according to results of the Unavoidable Aversive Light Stimulus test (UALST), which measures the state of depression in lab animals.

"There is clearly potential for krill oil to aid in the management of depressive disorders, while avoiding sedative effects,” said Lena Burri, PhD, director of scientific writing at Aker BioMarine and coordinator of this study.

“The special combination of omega-3 fatty acids in phospholipid form in krill oil might give it a further advantage over other omega-3 sources."

The study was a collaboration between researchers at the University of Bergen, Norway, Aker BioMarine, and ETAP, a preclinical research center in France. Funding was provided by Aker and the Norwegian Research Council.

Matts Johansen, chief operating officer of Aker BioMarine said the company is “very excited about the results from this preclinical study on depression and cognitive function.

“This lays an excellent foundation and provides added confidence we are moving in the right direction by investing in additional brain health studies.

Study details

The researchers divided lab rats into three groups: The first group received the control diet only, the second was supplemented with krill oil at an average dose of 0.2 grams per day, and the third group received the diet plus the tricyclic antidepressant Imipramine (IMIP; Sigma-Aldrich).

Results showed that after seven weeks of intervention both male and female animals performed significantly better in the Aversive Light Stimulus Avoidance Test (ALSAT).

In addition, animals in both the krill oil and Imipramine groups did not display resignation/depression on the third day in the UALST, added the researchers.

Analysis of the animals’ brains indicated that krill oil enhanced expression of Bdnf, which is a gene implicated in neuronal growth and differentiation.

"We found that in comparison to Imipramine, administration of krill oil did not lead to sedation, which is a regular problem with classic antidepressants,” said Michaël Messaoudi, PhD, scientific & medical director of ETAP.

“Instead, krill oil treated animals remained alert and showed improved learning and memory functions, while displaying antidepressant-like effects."

Source: Lipids in Health and Disease
2013,12:6
"Enhanced cognitive function and antidepressant-like effects after krill oil supplementation in rats"
Authors: K. Wibrand, K. Berge, M. Messaoudi, A. Duffaud, D. Panja, C.R. Bramham, L. Burri

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