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Fish oil reduces brain inflammation and alleviates depression

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Editor’s Note: Inflammation has increasingly been found to be a major cause of depression, especially in neurodegenerative conditions such as Lyme disease. The results of this study suggest that natural anti-inflammatory agents such as omega-3 essential fatty acids such as those found in fish oil possess potent anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce symptoms of depression.
Depression is frequently associated with inflammation, whereas omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) primarily found in fish oil possess anti-inflammatory properties. Although converging studies suggest an antidepressant effect of PUFAs, there is limited evidence directly linking the neuro-immune modulating features of PUFAs to the antidepressant actions.
Therefore, we assessed the effects of fish oil (FO) supplementation on behavioral changes, inflammatory cytokine expression and oxidative reactions in frontal cortex and hippocampus of rats following repeated peripheral immune challenge by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) for 2 weeks (500 μg/kg every other day).
Repeated LPS administration induced the rats to a depressive-like state and increased mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including 1L-1β, 1L-6 and TNF-α, in frontal cortex and hippocampus. FO supplementation attenuated the LPS-induced abnormal behavior and brain inflammatory response.
Concurrent with the antidepressant action, FO also reduced LPS-induced oxidative reactions and neural apoptosis in the rat brain, as evidenced by decreased malondialdehyde (MDA) production, increased catalase activities and inhibited pro-apoptotic protein Bax mRNA expression.
In addition, FO inhibited activation of NF-κB and iNOS induced by LPS. Interestingly, we found FO suppressed the activation of the inflammasome NLRP3 and ionotropic purinergic receptor P2X7R evoked by LPS, suggesting a potential anti-inflammatory mechanism for PUFAs.
Besides, FO also restored the LPS-induced neurochemical disturbance, especially the balance between serotonin and kynurenine branches of tryptophan metabolism, which is tightly associated with depression.
These findings provide novel insights into the antidepressant action of PUFAs and further strengthen the link between inflammation and depression.
Source: By Dang R1, Zhou X2, Tang M3, Xu P1, Gong X1, Liu Y4, Jiao H4, Jiang P5. Fish oil supplementation attenuates neuroinflammation and alleviates depressive-like behavior in rats submitted to repeated lipopolysaccharide. Eur J Nutr. 2017 Jan 5. doi: 10.1007/s00394-016-1373-z. [Epub ahead of print]

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