Investigation of the effect of dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on trauma-induced white matter injury with quantitative diffusion MRI in mice

J Neurosci Res. 2020 Nov;98(11):2232-2244. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24705. Epub 2020 Aug 25.


Previous studies suggest that long-term supplementation and dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) may have neuroprotective effects following brain injury. The objective of this study was to investigate potential neuroprotective effects of omega-3 PUFAs on white matter following closed-head trauma. The closed-head injury model of engineered rotational acceleration (CHIMERA) produces a reproducible injury in the optic tract and brachium of the superior colliculus in mice. Damage is detectable using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) metrics, particularly fractional anisotropy (FA), with sensitivity comparable to histology. We acquired in vivo (n = 38) and ex vivo (n = 41) DTI data in mice divided into sham and CHIMERA groups with two dietary groups: one deficient in omega-3 PUFAs and one adequate in omega-3 PUFAs. We examined injury effects (reduction in FA) and neuroprotection (FA reduction modulated by diet) in the optic tract and brachium. We verified that diet did not affect FA in sham animals. In injured animals, we found significantly reduced FA in the optic tract and brachium (~10% reduction, p < 0.001), and Bayes factor analysis showed strong evidence to reject the null hypothesis. However, Bayes factor analysis showed substantial evidence to accept the null hypothesis of no diet-related FA differences in injured animals in the in vivo and ex vivo samples. Our results indicate no neuroprotective effect from adequate dietary omega-3 PUFA intake on white matter damage following traumatic brain injury. Since damage from CHIMERA mainly affects white matter, our results do not necessarily contradict previous findings showing omega-3 PUFA-mediated neuroprotection in gray matter.

Keywords: MRI; closed-head injury; diffusion tensor imaging; mouse; omega-3 fatty acids; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't