A previous study conducted in guinea pigs suggested that ingestion of diets high in EPA and DHA may result in suboptimal retinal function. The aim of the present study was to evaluate retinal function in pigmented (Long-Evans) rats, raised to a third generation on diets that were either deficient in n-3 PUFA or adequate (with the addition of DHA). Electroretinographic assessment employed full-field white flash stimulation. Photoreceptor responses were evaluated in terms of peak amplitudes and implicit times (a-wave, b-wave), intensity-response functions (Naka-Rushton), and the parameters of a model of transduction (P3). Retinal phospholipid FA composition was measured by capillary GLC. DHA levels were reduced by 55% in n-3-deficient animals compared with the n-3-adequate group, whereas the levels of docosapentaenoic acid n-6 were 44 times higher in n-3-deficient animals. The level of arachidonic acid was marginally higher (12.8%) in n-6-adequate animals. The n-3-deficient animals exhibited significantly reduced retinal sensitivity (σ and S values were both affected by 0.29 log units) and increased b-wave implicit times compared with those fed the n-3-adequate diet. These data suggest that n-3 PUFA are required for development of retinal sensitivity, more so than other indices of retinal function assessed by current methods, such as maximal response amplitude. However, the benefit for retinal function of adding preformed DHA to diets already replete in n-3 PUFA remains unclear.
Field of Research
060199 Biochemistry and Cell Biology not elsewhere classified