Food and Behaviour Research

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Dietary ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid but not soybean oil reverses central interleukin-1-induced changes in behavior, corticosterone and immune response in rats.

Song C, Leonard BE, Horrobin DF. (2004) Stress 7(1) 43-54. 

Web URL: View this abstract via PubMed here


Omega (n)-3 and n-6 fatty acids are important membrane components of neurons and immune cells, and related to psychiatric and inflammatory diseases. Increased ratio of n-6/n-3 in the blood has been reported in depressed patients and in students following stress exposure.

The n-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (ethyl-EPA) suppresses inflammation and has antidepressant properties. Interleukin (IL)-1beta can stimulate corticosterone secretion, induce anxiety and stress-like behavior and inflammatory responses.

This study was to evaluate the effect of diets enriched with coconut oil, ethyl-EPA and soybean oil on central IL-1beta induced stress and anxiety-like behavior, induced changes in the concentration of prostaglandin (PG) E2 and corticosterone and the release of IL-10.

Groups of rats were fed with either 5% coconut oil (as control diet), 0.2% EPA with 4.8% coconut oil or 1% EPA with 4% coconut oil and 5% soybean oil for 7 weeks.

The central administration of IL-1beta induced sickness, stress and anxiety-like behavior as indicated by a reduction in body weight, decreased time spent, and the number of entries, into the open arms of the elevated plus maze and decreased exploration and entry into the central zone of the "open field" apparatus. IL-1beta also increased PGE2 and corticosterone concentrations and decreased the release of IL-10 from leucocytes.

Food enriched with ethyl-EPA but not soybean oil, significantly attenuated most of these changes.

These results demonstrate that ethyl-EPA has anti-inflammatory, anti-stress and anti-anxiety effects in rats.

Copyright 2004 Taylor and Francis Ltd.