N-3 PUFA Deficiency Affects the Ultrastructural Organization and Density of White Matter Microglia in the Developing Brain of Male Mice.

Fanny Decoeur, Katherine Picard, Marie-Kim St-Pierre, Andrew D. Greenhalgh, Jean-Christophe Delpech, Alexandra Sere, Sophie Layé, Marie-Eve Tremblay, Agnès Nadjar
Front. Cell. Neurosci.. 2022-02-10; 16:
DOI: 10.3389/fncel.2022.802411

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Over the last century, westernization of dietary habits has led to a dramatic reduction in dietary intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs). In particular, low maternal intake of n-3 PUFAs throughout gestation and lactation causes defects in brain myelination. Microglia are recognized for their critical contribution to neurodevelopmental processes, such as myelination. These cells invade the white matter in the first weeks of the post-natal period, where they participate in oligodendrocyte maturation and myelin production. Therefore, we investigated whether an alteration of white matter microglia accompanies the myelination deficits observed in the brain of n-3 PUFA-deficient animals. Macroscopic imaging analysis shows that maternal n-3 PUFA deficiency decreases the density of white matter microglia around post-natal day 10. Microscopic electron microscopy analyses also revealed alterations of microglial ultrastructure, a decrease in the number of contacts between microglia and myelin sheet, and a decreased amount of myelin debris in their cell body. White matter microglia further displayed increased mitochondrial abundance and network area under perinatal n-3 PUFA deficiency. Overall, our data suggest that maternal n-3 PUFA deficiency alters the structure and function of microglial cells located in the white matter of pups early in life, and this could be the key to understand myelination deficits during neurodevelopment.

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