Evidence from human studies indicates that maternal metabolic state and malnutrition dramatically influence the risk for developing psychiatriccomplications in later adulthood. In this regard, the central role of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and particularly n-3 PUFAs, is emerging considering that epidemiological evidences have established a negative correlation between n-3 PUFA consumption and development of mood disorders.

These findings were supported by clinical studies indicating that low content of n-3 PUFAs in diet is linked to an increased susceptibility to psychiatric disorders. PUFAs regulate membrane fluidity and exert their central action by modulating synaptogenesis and neurotrophic factor expression, neurogenesis, and neurotransmission. Moreover, they are precursors of molecules implicated in modulating immune and inflammatory processes in the brain.

Importantly, their tissue concentrations are closely related to diet intake, especially to maternal consumption during embryonal life, considering that their synthesis from essential precursors has been shown to be inefficient in mammals.

The scope of this review is to highlight the possible mechanisms of PUFA functions in the brain during pre- and post-natal period and to evaluate their role in the pathogenesis of
psychiatric diseases.

PMID: 27472366

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