N-3 PUFA deficiency disrupts oligodendrocyte maturation and myelin integrity during brain development

Glia. 2022 Jan;70(1):50-70. doi: 10.1002/glia.24088. Epub 2021 Sep 14.

Abstract

Westernization of dietary habits has led to a progressive reduction in dietary intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs). Low maternal intake of n-3 PUFAs has been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders, conditions in which myelination processes are abnormal, leading to defects in brain functional connectivity. Only little is known about the role of n-3 PUFAs in oligodendrocyte physiology and white matter development. Here, we show that lifelong n-3 PUFA deficiency disrupts oligodendrocytes maturation and myelination processes during the postnatal period in mice. This has long-term deleterious consequences on white matter organization and hippocampus-prefrontal functional connectivity in adults, associated with cognitive and emotional disorders. Promoting developmental myelination with clemastine, a first-generation histamine antagonist and enhancer of oligodendrocyte precursor cell differentiation, rescues memory deficits in n-3 PUFA deficient animals. Our findings identify a novel mechanism through which n-3 PUFA deficiency alters brain functions by disrupting oligodendrocyte maturation and brain myelination during the neurodevelopmental period.

Keywords: clemastine; cognition; hippocampus; myelin; n-3 PUFA; neurodevelopement; oligodendrocyte; omega-3; prefrontal cortex.