Chronic consumption of a high linoleic acid diet during pregnancy, lactation and post-weaning period increases depression-like behavior in male, but not female offspring

Suk yu Yau (Corresponding Author), Yvette Siu Ling Yip, Douglas A. Formolo, Siyuen He, Thomas Ho Yin Lee, Chunyi Wen, Deanne H. Hryciw

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) play an essential role in brain development. Emerging data have suggested a possible link between an imbalance in PUFAs and cognitive behavioral deficits in offspring. A diet rich in high linoleic acid (HLA), typically from preconception to lactation, leads to an increase in the ratio of omega-6 (n-6) to omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids in the fetus. Arising research has suggested that a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids is a potential risk factor for inducing autism spectrum disorder (ASD)-like behavioral deficits. However, the impact of a high n- diet during preconception, pregnancy, lactation, and post-weaning on the brain development of adolescent offspring are yet to be determined. This study examined whether consumption of an HLA diet during pregnancy, lactation, and post-weaning induced social and cognitive impairments in female and male offspring rats that resemble autistic phenotypes in humans. Female Wistar Kyoto rats were fed with either HLA or low linoleic acid (LLA) control diet for 10 weeks before mating, then continued with the same diet throughout the pregnancy and lactation period. Female and male offspring at 5 weeks old were subjected to behavioral tests to assess social interaction behavior and depression-/anxiety-like behavior. Our result showed that chronic consumption of an HLA diet did not affect sociability and social recognition memory, but induced depression-like behavior in male but not in female offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113538
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2022


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Depression-like behavior
  • Linoleic acid
  • Maternal diet
  • Nutrition
  • Offspring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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