Changes in dietary omega-6/3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) ratios affect anti- and proinflammatory equilibrium. As reperfused myocardial infarction (MI) is an inflammatory pathology that alters the cell integrity of the myocardium but also of other tissues, such as the hippocampus and amygdala, attenuation of the inflammation could be helpful in maintaining cell integrity after MI. Therefore, we hypothesized that a decrease in the dietary omega-6/3 PUFA ratio, without altering the diet content in total fat, proteins, or carbohydrates, will result in a reduction of infarct size and a diminution of postreperfusion apoptosis observed in the amygdala and hippocampus.

Male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed 1 of 3 diets containing different omega-6/3 PUFA ratios for 2 weeks (5:1; 1:1; 1:5). Then, myocardial ischemia was induced by left anterior descending coronary artery occlusion for 40 min, followed by reperfusion. Cardioprotective mechanisms were studied in the myocardium at 15 min of reperfusion, along with myocardial infarct size after 24 h of reperfusion. Apoptosis was evaluated in the hippocampus and the amygdala. We found that infarct size was significantly reduced by 32% in groups 1:5 and 1:1 vs. group 5:1. Akt activity was higher in groups 1:5 and 1:1 compared with group 5:1. Caspase-3 enzymatic activity doubled in area CA1 and the dentate gyrus (DG) in group 5:1 compared with groups 1:1 and 1:5. In addition, caspase-8 enzymatic activity was increased in the DG at 24 h, and caspase-9 was enhanced in CA1 at 24 h in group 5:1 vs. groups 1:1 and 1:5.

These results demonstrate that the increase in the dietary omega-3 PUFA, at the expense of omega-6 PUFA, reduces infarct size and helps to inhibit apoptosis in the limbic system after MI.