Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency impairs frontostriatal recruitment following repeated amphetamine treatment in rats: A 7 Tesla in vivo phMRI study

Robert K McNamara, Jennifer D Schurdak, Ruth H Asch, Diana M Lindquist
Nutritional Neuroscience 2017 December 29, : 1-9
Although attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is associated with deficits in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid implicated in dopamine and glutamate synaptic plasticity, its role in neuroplastic brain changes that occur following repeated amphetamine (AMPH) treatment are not known. This study used pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the impact of repeated AMPH exposure and alterations in brain DHA levels on AMPH-induced brain activation patterns. Male rats were fed a diet with no n-3 fatty acids (Deficient, DEF, n = 20), a diet fortified with preformed DHA (fish oil, FO, n = 20), or a control diet fortified with alpha-linolenic acid (n = 20) from P21 to P90. During adolescence (P40-60), one-half of each diet group received daily AMPH injections escalated weekly (0.5, 1.0, 2.5, 5.0 mg/kg/d) or drug vehicle. Following a 30-d abstinence period blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) responses were determined in a 7 T Bruker Biospec system following an AMPH challenge (7.5 mg/kg, i.v). Postmortem erythrocyte and forebrain DHA composition were determined by gas chromatography. Compared with control rats, forebrain and erythrocyte DHA levels were significantly lower in DEF rats and significantly higher in FO rats. Across AMPH doses DEF rats exhibited greater locomotor activity compared to control and FO rats. In AMPH-naïve rats, the AMPH challenge increased BOLD activity in the substantia nigra and basal forebrain and no diet group differences were observed. In AMPH-pretreated control and FO rats, the AMPH challenge similarly increased BOLD activation in the bilateral caudate putamen, thalamus, and motor and cingulate cortices. In contrast, BOLD activation in AMPH-pretreated DEF rats was similar to AMPH-naïve DEF animals, and AMPH-pretreated DEF rats exhibited attenuated frontostriatal BOLD activation compared with AMPH-pretreated control and FO rats. These findings demonstrate that chronic escalating AMPH treatment induces enduring frontostriatal recruitment and that peri-adolescent deficits in brain DHA accrual impair this response.

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