Food and Behaviour Research

Donate Log In

Influence of trans fat and omega-3 on the preference of psychostimulant drugs in the first generation of young rats

Kuhn FT, et al (2013) Pharmacol Biochem Behaviour 2013 Sep 110:58-65. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2013.06.001 

Web URL: Read the abstract on


The current Western diet often provides considerable amounts of saturated and trans fatty acids (TFA), whose incorporation into neuronal membranes has been implicated in changes of brain neurochemical functions. Such influence has caused concerns due to precipitation of neuropsychiatric disorders, whose data are still unclear.

Here we evaluated the influence of different fats on preference parameters for amphetamine (AMPH): adolescent rats were orally supplemented with soybean oil (SO, rich in n-6 FA, which was considered an isocaloric control group), fish oil (FO, rich in n-3 FA) and hydrogenated vegetable fat (HVF, rich in saturated and trans FA) from weaning, which were born of dams supplemented with the same fat from pregnancy and lactation. AMPH preference, anxiety-like symptoms and locomotor index were evaluated in conditioned place preference (CPP), elevated plus maze (EPM) and open-field (OF), respectively, while brain oxidative status was determined in cortex, striatum and hippocampus.

HVF increased AMPH-CPP and was associated with withdrawal signs, as observed by increased anxiety-like symptoms. Moreover, SO and FO were not associated with AMPH preference, but only FO-supplemented rats did not show any anxiety-like symptoms or increased locomotion. FO supplementation was related to lower oxidative damages to proteins and increased CAT activity in striatum and hippocampus, as well as increased GSH levels in blood, while HVF was related to increased oxidative status.

In conclusion, our study showed the harmful influence of TFA on AMPH-CPP and drug craving symptoms, which can be related to dopaminergic neurotransmission.


This animal study adds to the evidence that consumption of industrially produced trans fats (toxic fats found in hydrogenated vegetable oils) has harmful effects on brain function.

In an animal model of addiction - involving assessment of the effects of amphetamine on both place preferences and behaviour - a diet rich in trans fats was associated with increased amphetamine-related place preference (an index of vulnerability to addiction), as well as anxiety and hyperactivity symptoms. 

A comparison diet rich in soybean oil increased anxiety and hyperactivity (without affecting place preference). Only animals supplementated with fish oil showed no increase in anxiety or agitation / hyperactivity.

See also