Imbalances in adolescence may have long-term implications for emotional well-being and cognitive functions, according to a multi-institutional French research team.
“In a mouse model mimicking omega-3 PUFAs dietary deficiency during adolescence and childhood, we found strong increases in anxiety and anhedonia which lead to decreases in specific cognitive functions in adulthood,” concludes co-lead author Dr. Olivier Manzoni.
Omega-3 deficiency is widely recognised as a major risk factor associated with neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Existing research has consistently shown the importance of good omega-3 status during critical development periods including perinatal and adolescent life stages.
Switching mice to a diet lacking omega-3 at adolescence led to lower PUFA levels in certain parts of the brain in adulthood.
“Starting nutritional deficits in dietary n-3 PUFAs during adolescence decreased omega-3 PUFAs in both medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and nucleus accumbens,” the team observed.
The researchers noted that lower omega-3 in these areas affects a complex signalling mechanism known as mGlu5-endocannabinoid, resulting in the observed emotional and cognitive changes.
“We also discovered that cognitive functions are impeded by nutritional deficits after the neurodevelopmental period,” commented the team.
The study findings reinforce earlier research of the long-term consequences of poor nutrition in adolescence, and the importance of ensuring food choices that contain key nutrients for brain-health.
Source: The Journal of Neuroscience
Published on line 19 June 2017. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3516-16.2017
“Amplification of mGlu5-endocannabinoid signaling rescues behavioral and synaptic deficits in a mouse model of adolescent and adult dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids imbalance”
Authors: Antonia Manduca, Olivier J. Manzoni, et al