Influence of omega-3 fatty acids from the flaxseed (Limum usitatissimum) on the brain development of newborn rats

January 1, 2011 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Influence of omega-3 fatty acids from the flaxseed (Limum usitatissimum) on the brain development of newborn rats

Year: 2011
Authors: Lenzi Almeida, K.C. Teles Boaventura, G. Guzman Silva, M.A.
Publication Name: Nutr. Hosp.
Publication Details: Volume 26; Number 5; Pages 991 – 996.


The importance of essential fatty acids, in particular the omega 3 family, in the central nervous system development of newborns is well documented. The flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) is considered one of the best vegetable sources of omega 3 fatty acids. The influence of omega 3 fatty acids from flaxseed on the brain development of newborn rats was evaluated. Pups of the Fl generation were obtained from 18 female Wistar rats divided in 3 groups (n = 6), FG: fed with diet based on Flaxseed added with casein, CG: Casein, and MCG: Modified Casein supplemented with fibers and soybean oil. Newborn pups were weighted and submitted to euthanasia; brains were collected for evaluation of weight and lipid profile through gaseous chromatography. Significant increase in brain weight (39%) and relative brain weight (37%) was verified in pups from mothers fed with flaxseed diet. The n3 fatty acids from the flaxseed were found in abundance in the diet made with this oleaginous and also significant increase in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (38%), as well as in total of n3 fatty acids (62%). Maternal diet of flaxseed during pregnancy influences the incorporation of omega 3 fatty acid in the composition of brain tissue, assuring a good development of this organ in newborn rats. (Authors abstract)
Studies have demonstrated the importance of n3 essential fatty acid (EFA) during gestation, nursing and childhood, constituting vulnerable periods for the brain development. Myelin sheaths in the nerve tissue are highly enriched with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). A DHA deficiency during nerve development has been related with behavior abnormalities. Flaxseed is a source of n3 fatty acid, direct precursor of DHA. In this study, rats were fed with a flaxseed diet during lifetime and the influence on the development (i.e. body weight, brain weight, brain relative weight) and brain lipid profile was assessed in the rat pups (F1 generation). In the current study, the diet based on flaxseed had a higher sum of n3 fatty acids (57%) than the other diets. The profile of brain fatty acids in newborn rats showed that the mothers� pups that consumed the flaxseed diet showed a very high percentage of DHA, as well as in the sum of PUFA and n3 when compared to the casein diet. The percentile amount of DHA was also very high in the pups� brain of the flaxseed group (FG), when compared to the other groups fed with casein diet (CG and MCG).  The authors concluded that the use of a diet based on flaxseed during gestation has influence on the incorporation of n3 fatty acids in the brain of newborn rats, contributing to improved cerebral development (Editors comments).

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