Polyunsaturated fatty acid supplement alleviates depression-incident cognitive dysfunction by protecting the cerebrovascular and glymphatic systems

Xinghua Liu, Jiahuan Hao, Ensheng Yao, Jie Cao, Xiaolong Zheng, Di Yao, Chenyan Zhang, Jia Li, Dengji Pan, Xiang Luo, Minghuan Wang, Wei Wang
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 2020 July 24

INTRODUCTION: Depression, the most prevalent mood disorder, has high comorbidity with cerebrovascular disease and cognitive decline. However, there is little understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in depression and its comorbid cerebrovascular damage and cognition impairment. Here, we tested the prediction that the chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) mouse model would manifest in disturbed glymphatic function and that dietary supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) could ameliorate these deficits while alleviating the depression-associated cognitive decline.

METHODS: To test the treatment effects of PUFA or Es on behaviours, we applied the tail suspension, open field, and sucrose preference tests to assess depressive symptoms, and applied the Morris water maze test to assess cognition in groups of control, chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS), PUFA, and escitalopram (Es) treatment. We measured the extracellular concentrations of dopamine (DA), 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) and noradrenaline (NA) in microdialysates from prefrontal cortex (PFC) by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. Glia cells and inflammatory factors were analysed with fluorescent immunochemistry and western blot, respectively. We tested brain vasomotor function with two-photon and laser speckle imaging in vivo, and measured glymphatic system function by two-photon imaging in vivo and fluorescence tracer imaging ex vivo, using awake and anesthetized mice. Besides, we monitored cortical spreading depression by laser speckle imaging system. AQP4 depolarization is analysed by fluorescent immunochemistry and western blot.

RESULTS: We confirmed that CUMS elicited depression-like and amnestic symptoms, accompanied by decreased monoamines neurotransmitter concentration in PFC and upregulated neuroinflammation markers. Moreover, CUMS mice showed reduced arterial pulsation and compliance in brain, and exhibited depolarized expression of AQP4, thus indicating glymphatic dysfunction both in awake and anesthetized states. PUFA supplementation rescued depression-like behaviours of CUMS mice, reduced neuroinflammation and cerebrovascular dysfunction, ultimately improved cognitive performance, all of which accompanied by restoring glymphatic system function. In contrast, Es treatment alleviated only the depression-like behavioural symptoms, while showing no effects on glymphatic function and depression-incident cognitive deficits.

CONCLUSIONS: The CUMS depression model entails suppression of the glymphatic system. PUFA supplementation rescued most behavioural signs of depression and the associated cognitive dysfunction by restoring the underlying glymphatic system disruption and protecting cerebral vascular function.

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