Flaxseed mitigates brain mass loss, improving motor hyperactivity and spatial memory, in a rodent model of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2015 Jun:97:13-9. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2015.03.001. Epub 2015 Mar 31.


Neonatal hypoxic-ischemic (HI) encephalopathy is a major cause of perinatal morbimortality. There is growing evidence that n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), attenuate brain injury. This study aimed to investigate the possible neuroprotective effect of maternal intake of flaxseed, rich in DHA׳s precursor α-linolenic acid, in the young male offspring subjected to perinatal HI. Wistar rats were divided in six groups, according to maternal diet and offspring treatment at day 7: Control HI (CHI) and Flaxseed HI (FHI); Control Sham and Flaxseed Sham; Control Control and Flaxseed Control. Flaxseed diet increased offspring׳s hippocampal DHA content and lowered depressive behavior. CHI pups presented brain mass loss, motor hyperactivity and poor spatial memory, which were improved in FHI rats. Maternal flaxseed intake may prevent depressive symptoms in the offspring and promote neuroprotective effects, in the context of perinatal HI, improving brain injury and its cognitive and behavioral impairments.

Keywords: Depression; Essential fatty acids; Flaxseed; Memory; Neonatal hypoxia-ischemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / prevention & control
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Flax / chemistry*
  • Hyperkinesis / physiopathology
  • Hyperkinesis / prevention & control*
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / physiopathology
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Neuroprotective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Spatial Memory / drug effects*
  • Time Factors
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / administration & dosage
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / pharmacology


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids