Food and Behaviour Research

Donate Log In

Nutritional omega-3 modulates neuronal morphology in the prefrontal cortex along with depression-related behaviour through corticosterone secretion.

Larrieu T, Hilal LM, Fourrier C, De Smedt-Peyrusse V, Sans N, Capuron L, LayĆ© S. (2014) Transl Psychiatry.   doi: 10.1038/tp.2014.77 [Epub ahead of print] Nature publishing group

Web URL: Read the free full text research paper and related research on the PubMed website here


Understanding how malnutrition contributes to depression is building momentum. In the present study we unravel molecular and cellular mechanisms by which nutritional disturbances lead to impaired emotional behaviour in mice.

Here we report that nutritional n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) deficiency induces a chronic stress state reflected by disrupted glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-mediated signalling pathway along with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis hyperactivity.

This hyperactivity in turn resulted in neuronal atrophy in the dorsolateral (dl)- and dorsomedial (dm)- prefrontal cortex (PFC) and subsequent mood-related behaviour alterations, similarly to chronic social defeat stress. Supplementation of n-3 PUFA prevented detrimental chronic social defeat stress-induced emotional and neuronal impairments by impeding HPA axis hyperactivity.

These results indicate a assorole for dietary n-3 PUFA in the prevention of HPA axis dysfunctionciated with the development of some neuropsychiatric disorders including depression.