Effect of fish oil supplementation in a rat model of multiple mild traumatic brain injuries

Tao Wang, Ken C. Van, Brian J. Gavitt, J. Kevin Grayson, Yi Cheng Lu, Bruce G Lyeth, Kullada O. Pichakron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Purpose: Repetitive mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major military and sports health concern. The purpose of this study was to determine if a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids would reduce cognitive deficits and neuronal cell death in a novel fluid percussion rat model of repetitive mild TBIs. Methods: Thirty-two Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned to either an experimental rat chow enhanced with 6% fish oil (source of omega-3 fatty acids) or a control rat chow. Both rat chows contained equivalent quantities of calories, oil, and nutrients. After four weeks, both groups received mild repetitive bilateral fluid percussion TBIs on two sequential days. Pre-injury diets were resumed, and the animals were monitored for two weeks. On post-injury days 10-14, Morris Water Maze testing was performed to assess spatial learning and cognitive function. Animals were euthanized at 14 days post-injury to obtain specimens for neurohistopathology. Results: There was no difference in pre-injury weight gain between groups. Post-injury, animals on the fish oil diet lost less weight and recovered their weight significantly faster. By 14 days, the fish oil diet group performed significantly better in the Morris Water Maze. Neurohistopathology identified a non-significant trend toward a higher density of hippocampal neurons in the fish oil diet group. Conclusions: Pre-injury dietary supplementation with fish oil improves recovery of body weight and provides a small improvement in cognitive performance in a rat model of multiple mild TBIs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-659
Number of pages13
JournalRestorative Neurology and Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2013


  • dietary supplementation
  • hippocampus
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • morris water maze
  • omega-3 fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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