U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Nutrients 2019, 11, 407; doi:10.3390/nu11020407



U.S. Government Works


Dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) influence postnatal brain growth and development. However, little data exist regarding the impacts of dietary n-3 PUFA in juvenile animals post weaning, which is a time of rapid growth. We tested the hypothesis that depleting dietary n-3 PUFA would result in modifications to the cerebellar transcriptome of juvenile rats. To test this hypothesis, three week old male rats (an age that roughly corresponds to an 11 month old child in brain development) were fed diets containing either soybean oil (SO) providing 1.1% energy from α-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3n-3; ALA-sufficient) or corn oil (CO) providing 0.13% energy from ALA (ALA-deficient) for four weeks. Fatty acids (FAs) in the cerebellum were analyzed and revealed a 4-fold increase in n-6 docosapentaenoic acid (DPA; 22:5n-6), increases in arachidonic acid (AA; 20:4n-6) and docosatetraenoic acid (DTA; 22:4n-6), but no decrease in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3), in animals fed CO versus SO. Transcript abundance was then characterized to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between the two diets. Upper quartile (UQ) scaling and transcripts per million (TPM) data normalization identified 100 and 107 DEGs, respectively. Comparison of DEGs from the two normalization methods identified 70 genes that overlapped, with 90% having abundance differences less than 2-fold. Nr4a3, a transcriptional activator that plays roles in neuroprotection and learning, was elevated over 2-fold from the CO diet. These data indicate that expression of Nr4a3 in the juvenile rat cerebellum is responsive to dietary n-3 PUFA, but additional studies are needed clarify the neurodevelopmental relationships between n-3 PUFA and Nr4a3 and the resulting impacts.