Deficiencies in omega-3 (n-3) long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) and increases in the ratio of omega-6 (n-6) to n-3 LC-PUFAs in brain tissues and blood components have been associated with psychiatric and developmental disorders. Most studies have focused on n-3 LC-PUFA accumulation in the brain from birth until 2 years of age, well before the symptomatic onset of such disorders. The current study addresses changes that occur in childhood and adolescence. Postmortem brain (cortical gray matter, inferior temporal lobe; n = 50) and liver (n = 60) from vervet monkeys fed a uniform diet from birth through young adulthood were collected from archived tissues. Lipids were extracted and fatty acid levels determined. There was a marked reduction in the ratio of n-6 LC-PUFAs, arachidonic acid (ARA) and adrenic acid (ADR), relative to the n-3 LC-PUFA, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in temporal cortex lipids from birth to puberty and then a more gradual decrease though adulthood. This decrease in ratio resulted from a 3-fold accumulation of DHA levels while concentrations of ARA remained constant. Early childhood through adolescence appears to be a critical period for DHA accretion in the cortex of vervet monkeys and may represent a vulnerable stage where lack of dietary n-3 LC-PUFAs impacts development in humans.
- Arachidonic acid
- Docosahexaenoic acid
- Omega-3 deficiency
- Psychiatric and developmental disorders
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience