Perinatal Dietary Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Brain Development, Role in Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Nutrients. 2021-04-02; 13(4): 1185
n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are essential fatty acids that are provided by dietary intake. Growing evidence suggests that n-3 and n-6 PUFAs are paramount for brain functions. They constitute crucial elements of cellular membranes, especially in the brain. They are the precursors of several metabolites with different effects on inflammation and neuron outgrowth. Overall, long-chain PUFAs accumulate in the offspring brain during the embryonic and post-natal periods. In this review, we discuss how they accumulate in the developing brain, considering the maternal dietary supply, the polymorphisms of genes involved in their metabolism, and the differences linked to gender. We also report the mechanisms linking their bioavailability in the developing brain, their transfer from the mother to the embryo through the placenta, and their role in brain development. In addition, data on the potential role of altered bioavailability of long-chain n-3 PUFAs in the etiologies of neurodevelopmental diseases, such as autism, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and schizophrenia, are reviewed.