Maternal Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake During Neurodevelopment Does Not Affect Pup Behavior Related to Depression, Novelty, or Learning
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Objective: Previously, we showed that consumption of a diet supplemented with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3FAs) for two rounds of gestation and lactation increased the ability of rat dams to cope with stress when compared to dams that ingested a diet lacking n-3FAs. The objective of this study was to determine if the diets of these dams affected the behavior of their pups later in life. To isolate the neurodevelopmental effects of n-3FAs, pups from the second gestation were weaned to a diet adequate in n-3FAs. Pup testing began at 8 weeks of age and consisted of the forced swim, open field, and hole board tests to examine depression-related behavior, reaction to novelty, and learning and memory, respectively.
Results: Given the considerable difference in the n-3FA content of the maternal diet, we expected a large effect size, however with the exception of rearing duration, maternal diet did not affect behavior in any of the tests conducted. These results suggest that maternal n-3FA supplementation during neurodevelopment likely does not affect offspring behavior when a diet adequate in n-3FA is provided post-weaning. Rather, we hypothesize that brain n-3FAs at the time of testing confer altered behavior and corroborate the need for additional research.