Chronic dietary changes in n-6/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratios cause developmental delay and reduce social interest in mice

van Elst, K., Brouwers, J. F., Merkens, J. E., Broekhoven, M. H., Birtoli, B., Helms, J. B. & Kas, M. J. H., Jan-2019, In : European Neuropsychopharmacology. 29, 1, p. 16-31 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • Kim van Elst
  • Jos F. Brouwers
  • Jessica E. Merkens
  • Mark H. Broekhoven
  • Barbara Birtoli
  • J. Bernd Helms
  • Martien J. H. Kas
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are one of the main cellular building blocks, and dietary changes in PUFA composition are proposed as a potential route to influence brain development. For example, initial studies indicated that there is a relation between blood omega-6(n-6)/omega-3(n-3) PUFA ratios and neurodevelopmental disease diagnosis. To study the consequences of dietary n-6/n-3 PUFA ratio changes, we investigated the impact of a n-3 supplemented and n-3 deficient diet in developing BTBR T + Itpr3tf/J (BTBR) – a mouse inbred strain displaying Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)-like symptomatology - and control C57BL/6J mice. This study showed that pre- and postnatal changed dietary n-6/n-3 ratio intake has a major impact on blood and brain PUFA composition, and led to delayed physical development and puberty onset in both strains. The PUFA induced developmental delay did not impact adult cognitive performance, but resulted in reduced social interest, a main ASD behavioral feature. Thus, both chronic dietary n-3 PUFA supplementation and depletion may not be beneficial.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-31
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number1
Early online date15-Dec-2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2019


  • Autism Spectrum Disorder, Polyunsaturated fatty acids, Developmental delay, Omega-3, Mouse behavior

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