Science Short

Omega-3 deficient teenagers may become anxious adults

By Tim Cutcliffe contact

- Last updated on GMT

iStock/ vladans
iStock/ vladans

Related tags: Nutrition

Low omega-3 in adolescent mice leads to behavioural problems in adulthood, finds new study in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Imbalances in adolescence may have long-term implications for emotional well-being and cognitive functions, according to a multi-institutional French research team.

“In a mouse model mimicking omega-3 PUFAs dietary deficiency during adolescence and childhood, we found strong increases in anxiety and anhedonia which lead to decreases in specific cognitive functions in adulthood,”​ concludes co-lead author Dr. Olivier Manzoni.

Omega-3 deficiency is widely recognised as a major risk factor associated with neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Existing research has consistently shown the importance of good omega-3 status during critical development periods including perinatal and adolescent life stages.

Long-term consequences

Switching mice to a diet lacking omega-3 at adolescence led to lower PUFA levels in certain parts of the brain in adulthood.

 “Starting nutritional deficits in dietary n-3 PUFAs during adolescence decreased omega-3 PUFAs in both medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and nucleus accumbens,” ​the team observed.

The researchers noted that lower omega-3 in these areas affects a complex signalling mechanism known as mGlu5-endocannabinoid, resulting in the observed emotional and cognitive changes.

“We also discovered that cognitive functions are impeded by nutritional deficits after the neurodevelopmental period,” ​commented the team.

The study findings reinforce earlier research of the long-term consequences of poor nutrition in adolescence, and the importance of ensuring food choices that contain key nutrients for brain-health.

Source: The Journal of Neuroscience
Published on line 19 June 2017. doi:  10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3516-16.2017
“Amplification of mGlu5-endocannabinoid signaling rescues behavioral and synaptic deficits in a mouse model of adolescent and adult dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids imbalance”

Authors: Antonia Manduca, Olivier J. Manzoni, et al

 

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