Omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fattyacids (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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