Nutritional neuroscience

Long-term consumption of dried bonito dashi (a traditional Japanese fish stock) reduces anxiety and modifies central amino acid levels in rats.

PMID 24701973


Dried bonito dashi, a traditional Japanese fish stock, enhances palatability of various dishes because of its specific flavor. Daily intake of dashi has also been shown to improve mood status such as tension-anxiety in humans. This study aimed at investigating beneficial effects of dashi ingestion on anxiety/depression-like behaviors and changes in amino acid levels in the brain and plasma in rats. Male Wistar rats were given either dried bonito dashi or water for long-term (29 days; Experiment 1) or single oral administration (Experiment 2). Anxiety and depression-like behaviors were tested using the open field and forced swimming tests, respectively. Concentrations of amino acids were measured in the hippocampus, hypothalamus, cerebellum, and jugular vein. During the long-term (29 days) consumption, rats given 2% dashi frequently entered the center zone and spent more time compared with the water controls in the open field test. However, the dashi was ineffective on depression-like behavior. In the hippocampus, concentrations of hydroxyproline, anserine, and valine were increased by dashi while those of asparagine and phenylalanine were decreased. In the hypothalamus, the methionine concentration was decreased. In a single oral administration experiment, the dashi (1%, 2% or 10%) showed no effects on behaviors. Significance was observed only in the concentrations of α-aminoadipic acid, cystathionine, and ornithine in the hippocampus. Dried bonito dashi is a functional food having anxiolytic-like effects. Daily ingestion of the dashi, even at lower concentrations found in the cuisine, reduces anxiety and alters amino acid levels in the brain.