Objective: To investigate the effect of maternal dietary Ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) deficiency and repletion on food appetite signaling.

Research Methods and Procedures: Sprague-Dawley rat dams were maintained on diets either supplemented with (CON) or deficient in (DEF) Ω-3 PUFA. All offspring were raised on the maternal diet until weaning. After weaning, two groups remained on the respective maternal diet (CON and DEF groups), whereas a third group, born of dams fed the DEF diet, were switched to the CON diet (REC). Experiments on food intake began when the male rats reached 16 weeks of age. Food intake was stimulated either by a period of food restriction, by blocking glucose utilization (by 2-deoxyglucose injection), or by blocking ß-oxidation of fatty acids (by ß-mercaptoacetate injection).

Results: DEF animals consumed more than CON animals in response to all stimuli, with the greatest difference (1.9-fold) demonstrated following administration of 2-deoxyglucose. REC animals also consumed more than CON animals in response to food restriction and 2-deoxyglucose but not to ß-mercaptoacetate.

Discussion: These findings indicate that supply of Ω-3 PUFA, particularly during the perinatal period, plays a role in the normal development of mechanisms controlling food intake, especially glucoprivic (i.e. reduced glucose availability) appetite signaling. Dietary repletion of Ω-3 PUFA from 3 weeks of age restored intake responses to fatty acid metabolite signaling but did not reverse those in response to food restriction or glucoprivic stimuli.