Molecular neurobiology

The Antidepressant-Like Effect of Fish Oil: Possible Role of Ventral Hippocampal 5-HT1A Post-synaptic Receptor.

PMID 25139282


The pathophysiology of depression is not completely understood; nonetheless, numerous studies point to serotonergic dysfunction as a possible cause. Supplementation with fish oil rich docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acids (EPA) during critical periods of development produces antidepressant effects by increasing serotonergic neurotransmission, particularly in the hippocampus. In a previous study, the involvement of 5-HT1A receptors was demonstrated and we hypothesized that fish oil supplementation (from conception to weaning) alters the function of post-synaptic hippocampal 5-HT1A receptors. To test this hypothesis, female rats were supplemented with fish oil during habituation, mating, gestation, and lactation. The adult male offspring was maintained without supplementation until 3 months of age, when they were subjected to the modified forced swimming test (MFST) after infusion of vehicle or the selective 5-HT1A antagonist, WAY100635, and frequency of swimming, immobility, and climbing was recorded for 5 min. After the behavioral test, the hippocampi were obtained for quantification of serotonin (5-HT) and its metabolite, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) and for 5-HT1A receptor expression by Western blotting analysis. Fish oil-supplemented offspring displayed less depressive-like behaviors in the MFST reflected by decreased immobility and increased swimming and higher 5-HT hippocampal levels. Although there was no difference in the expression of hippocampal 5-HT1A receptors, intra-hippocampal infusion of a sub-effective dose of 8-OH-DPAT enhanced the antidepressant effect of fish oil in supplemented animals. In summary, the present findings suggest that the antidepressant-like effects of fish oil supplementation are likely related to increased hippocampal serotonergic neurotransmission and sensitization of hippocampal 5-HT1A receptors.