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Epidemiologic studies associate maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)/DHA-containing seafood intake with enhanced cognitive development; although, it should be noted that interventional trials show inconsistent findings. We examined perinatal DHA supplementation on cognitive performance, brain anatomical and functional organization, and the brain monoamine neurotransmitter status of offspring using a piglet model. Sows were fed a control (CON) or a diet containing DHA (DHA) from late gestation throughout lactation. Piglets underwent an open field test (OFT), an object recognition test (ORT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to acquire anatomical, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) at weaning. Piglets from DHA-fed sows spent 95% more time sniffing the walls than CON in OFT and exhibited an elevated interest in the novel object in ORT, while CON piglets demonstrated no preference. Maternal DHA supplementation increased fiber length and tended to increase fractional anisotropy in the hippocampus of offspring than CON. DHA piglets exhibited increased functional connectivity in the cerebellar, visual, and default mode network and decreased activity in executive control and sensorimotor network compared to CON. The brain monoamine neurotransmitter levels did not differ in healthy offspring. Perinatal DHA supplementation may increase exploratory behaviors, improve recognition memory, enhance fiber tract integrity, and alter brain functional organization in offspring at weaning.

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This article was published in Nutrients, Volume 12, Issue 7.

The published version is available at

Copyright 2020 the authors. CC BY 4.0.