Brain aging is characterized by a decline in cognitive functions, which can lead to the development of neurodegenerative pathologies. Age-related spatial learning and memory deficits are associated with a chronic low-grade inflammation. Anxiety disorders and stress response alterations, occurring for a part of the elderly, have also been linked to an increased neuroinflammation and thus, an accelerated cognitive decline. Nutrition is an innovative strategy to prevent age-related cognitive impairments. Among the nutrients, n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) and low molecular weight peptides from proteins, especially those from marine resources, are good candidates for their immunomodulatory, anxiolytic and neuroprotective properties. The aim of this study is to determine the combined effect of n-3 LC-PUFAs and low molecular weight peptides on cognitive functions, and their mechanism of action. We are the first to show that a dietary supplementation with a fish hydrolysate containing n-3 LC-PUFAs and low molecular weight peptides prevented the age-related spatial short-term memory deficits and modulated navigation strategies adopted during spatial learning. In addition, the fish hydrolysate displayed anxiolytic activities with the reduction of anxiety-like behaviour in aged mice, restored the plasmatic corticosterone levels similar to adult animals following an acute stress and modulated the hypothalamic stress response. These effects on behaviour can be explained by the immunomodulatory and neuroprotective properties of the fish hydrolysate that limited microgliosis in vivo, decreased LPS-induced expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increased the expression of growth factors such as BDNF and NGF in vitro. Thus, n-3 LC-PUFAs and low molecular weight peptides contained in the fish hydrolysate can play an important role in the limitation of neuroinflammation and stress response alterations during aging and represent a potential strategy for the prevention of age-related cognitive decline.
Keywords: Aging; Anxiety-like behaviour; Cognitive decline; Hydrolysate; Low molecular weight peptides; Marine by-products; Memory; Navigation strategies; Neuroinflammation; Stress response; n-3 Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LC-PUFAs).
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