Food and Behaviour Research

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Long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake is associated positively with corticolimbic gray matter volume in healthy adults.

Conklin SM, Gianaros PJ, Brown SM, Yao JK, Hariri AR, Manuck SB, Muldoon MF. (2007) Neurosci Lett.  421(3) 209-12 

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Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

In animals, dendritic arborization and levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor are positively associated with intake of the omega-3 fatty acids. Here, we test whether omega-3 fatty acid intake in humans varies with individual differences in gray matter volume, an in vivo, systems-level index of neuronal integrity.

METHODS:

Fifty-five healthy adults completed two 24h dietary recall interviews. Intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids was categorized by tertiles. Regional gray matter volumes in a putative emotional brain circuitry comprised of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), amygdala and hippocampus were calculated using optimized voxel-based morphometry on high-resolution structural magnetic resonance images.

RESULTS:

Region of interest analyses revealed positive associations between reported dietary omega-3 intake and gray matter volume in the subgenual ACC, the right hippocampus and the right amygdala, adjusted for total gray matter volume of brain. Unconstrained whole-brain analyses confirmed that higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids was selectively associated with increased greater gray matter volume in these and not other regions.

CONCLUSIONS:

Higher reported consumption of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is associated with greater gray matter volume in nodes of a corticolimbic circuitry supporting emotional arousal and regulation. Such associations may mediate previously observed effects of omega-3 fatty acids on memory, mood and affect regulation.