Dietary ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) influences the expression of a number of genes in the brain. Zinc transporter (ZnT) 3 has been identified as a putative transporter of zinc into synaptic vesicles of neurons and is found in brain areas such as hippocampus and cortex. Neuronal zinc is involved in the formation of amyloid plaques, a major characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. The present study evaluated the influence of dietary ω-3 PUFA on the expression of the ZnT3 gene in the brains of adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. The rats were raised and/or maintained on a control (CON) diet that contained ω-3 PUFA or a diet deficient (DEF) in ω-3 PUFA. ZnT3 gene expression was analyzed by using real-time PCR, free zinc in brain tissue was determined by zinquin staining, and total zinc concentrations in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid were determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Compared with CON-raised animals, DEF-raised animals had increased expression of ZnT3 in the brain that was associated with an increased level of free zinc in the hippocampus. In addition, compared with CON-raised animals, DEF-raised animals had decreased plasma zinc level. No difference in cerebrospinal fluid zinc level was observed. The results suggest that overexpression of ZnT3 due to a perinatal ω-3 PUFA deficiency caused abnormal zinc metabolism in the brain. Conceivably, the influence of dietary ω-3 PUFA on brain zinc metabolism could explain the observation made in population studies that the consumption of fish is associated with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Field of Research
060405 Gene Expression (incl Microarray and other genome-wide approaches)
Socio Economic Objective
970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences