2016 Volume 240 Issue 1 Pages 31-37
Omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are essential nutrients for normal brain development. The principal dietary n-6 and n-3 PUFAs are linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA), respectively, We have previously shown that maternal dietary imbalance between these PUFAs, i.e., rich in LA and poor in ALA, affected brain development and increased anxiety-related behavior in the mouse offspring. Here we further addressed sex difference in anxiety-related behavior in the offspring exposed to maternal LA:ALA imbalance. We fed pregnant mice a LA excess/ALA deficient (LAex/ALAdef) diet, and raised their offspring on a well-balanced LA:ALA diet from an early lactation period. When the offspring were grown to adulthood, they were subjected to behavioral and biochemical analyses. We found that both male and female offspring exposed to the LAex/ALAdef diet showed increased anxiety-related behavior compared to those exposed to the control diet, which was differently observed between the sexes. The female offspring also exhibited hyperactivity by maternal intake of the LAex/ALAdef diet. On the other hand, abnormal depressive behavior was undetected in both sexes. We also found that the ratio of n-6 to n-3 PUFAs in the brain was unaffected regardless of maternal diet or offspring’s sex. Since the n-6/n-3 ratio is known to influence emotional behavior, it is reasonable to assume that LA:ALA imbalance exposed during brain development is the key for causing enhanced anxiety in adulthood. The present study indicates that maternal dietary imbalance between LA and ALA increases offspring’s anxiety-related behavior with a sex-dependent manner.