Transgenerational reduction of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and cognition in Wistar rats


  • Ewelina Stollberg



Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, attention, impulsivity, activity, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, rat


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have an important impact on the development of the brain, especially during the prenatal and the early postnatal phases, and on the functioning of the adult brain. Deficiencies and imbalances of PUFAs can have significant effects on cognitive functions. Decreased levels of omega-3 (n-3) PUFAs have been suggested to be associated with symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The main symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the effects of n-3 PUFA deficiency on attention functions, impulsivity and activity by assessing the behavior of the fourth generation of n-3 PUFA depleted Wistar rats. Four generations of Wistar rats were outbred, and throughout the whole breeding period, dams and their offspring were fed with an n-3 PUFA-deficient diet. The study was performed in male offspring of the fourth generation of n-3 PUFA deficient dams. Twelve males from the deficient group and twelve males fed both prenatally and throughout the entire experiment with an n-3 fatty acid-sufficient diet (control group) were tested. Behavioral testing was performed using the three-choice-serial-reaction-time task (3CSRTT). The present data showed no relevant effects of a transgenerational n-3 PUFA deficiency on attention, impulsivity and activity. A longer period of n-3 PUFA deprivation may be needed to arrive at reduced n-3 PUFA concentrations in the brain which could produce behavioral effects. It may therefore be necessary to examine the effects of transgenerational n-3 PUFA deprivation on rat cognitive functioning over more than four generations.