January 31, 2011
BORDEAUX, FranceIndividuals who do not have adequate amounts of omega-3 in their diets may have a higher risk of developing depression, according to a new study published in Nature Neuroscience.
Researchers from Insert and INRA and collaborators in Spain studied mice fed a life-long diet imbalanced in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They found that mice who ate a diet low in omega-3 experienced consequences on their synaptic functions and emotional behaviors.
Among omega-3 deficient mice, the usual effects produced by cannabinoid receptor activation on the synaptic and behavioral levels no longer appear; therefore, the CB1R receptors lose their synaptic activity and the antioxidant effect of the cannabinoids disappears.
Consequently, the researchers discovered that among mice subjected to an omega-3 deficient dietary regime, synaptic plasticity, which is dependent on the CB1R cannabinoid receptors, is disturbed in at least two structures involved with reward, motivation and emotional regulationthe prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens. These parts of the brain contain a large number of CB1R cannabinoid receptors and have important functional connections with each other.
Our results can now corroborate clinical and epidemiological studies which have revealed associations between an omega-3/omega-6 imbalance and mood disorders," the researchers said. To determine if the omega-3 deficiency is responsible for these neuropsychiatric disorders additional studies are, of course, required."
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