Doxorubicin (DOX) is a chemotherapeutic agent widely used in human malignancies. Its long-term use can cause neurobiological side-effects associated with depression. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFAs), the essential fatty acids found in fish oil, possess neuroprotecitve and antidepressant activities. Thus, the aim of this study was to explore the potential protective effects of ω-3 PUFAs against DOX-induced behavioral changes and neurotoxicity.

ω-3 PUFAs were given daily by gavage (1.5 g/kg) over three weeks starting seven days before DOX administration (2.5 mg/kg). Open-field test (OFT) and forced swimming test (FST) were conducted to assess exploratory activity and despair behavior, respectively.

Our data showed that ω-3 PUFAs supplementation significantly mitigated the behavioral changes induced by DOX. ω-3 PUFAs pretreatment also alleviated the DOX-induced neural apoptosis. Meanwhile, ω-3 PUFAs treatment ameliorated DOX-induced oxidative stress in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Additionally, gene expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α, and the protein levels of NF-κB and iNOS were significantly increased in brain tissues of DOX-treated group, whereas ω-3 PUFAs supplementation significantly attenuated DOX-induced neuroinflammation.

In conclusion, ω-3 PUFAs can effectively protect against DOX-induced depressive-like behaviors, and the mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective effect are potentially associated with its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic properties.

PMID: 27120616

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