Perinatal ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supply modifies brain zinc homeostasis during adulthood

Anura P. Jayasooriya, M. Leigh Ackland, Michael L. Mathai, Andrew J. Sinclair, Harrison S. Weisinger, Richard S. Weisinger, John E. Halver, Klára Kitajka, László G. Puskás

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Dietary ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) influences the expression of a number of genes in the brain. Zinc transporter (ZnT) 3 has been identified as a putative transporter of zinc into synaptic vesicles of neurons and is found in brain areas such as hippocampus and cortex. Neuronal zinc is involved in the formation of amyloid plaques, a major characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. The present study evaluated the influence of dietary ω-3 PUFA on the expression of the ZnT3 gene in the brains of adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. The rats were raised and/or maintained on a control (CON) diet that contained ω-3 PUFA or a diet deficient (DEF) in ω-3 PUFA. ZnT3 gene expression was analyzed by using real-time PCR, free zinc in brain tissue was determined by zinquin staining, and total zinc concentrations in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid were determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Compared with CON-raised animals, DEF-raised animals had increased expression of ZnT3 in the brain that was associated with an increased level of free zinc in the hippocampus. In addition, compared with CON-raised animals, DEF-raised animals had decreased plasma zinc level. No difference in cerebrospinal fluid zinc level was observed. The results suggest that overexpression of ZnT3 due to a perinatal ω-3 PUFA deficiency caused abnormal zinc metabolism in the brain. Conceivably, the influence of dietary ω-3 PUFA on brain zinc metabolism could explain the observation made in population studies that the consumption of fish is associated with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7133-7138
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Essential
  • Fatty acid deficiency
  • Gene expression
  • Zinc transporter

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