The prevalence of depression is increasing, and geriatric depression, in particular, is difficult to recognize and treat. Depression in older adults is often accompanied by neuroinflammation in the central nervous system (CNS). Neuroinflammation affects the brain’s physiological and immune functions through several pathways and induces depressive symptoms. This study investigated the relationship among depression, neuroinflammation, and fish oil supplementation. Thirty-six male Sprague-Dawley rats were used in an aging-related depression animal model to simulate geriatric depression. Cognitive function, depressive-like symptoms, peripheral nervous system and CNS inflammation status, and the tryptophan-related metabolic pathway were analyzed. The geriatric depression animal model was associated with depressive-like behaviors and cognitive impairment. The integrity of the blood-brain barrier was compromised, resulting in increased expression of ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1 and the glial fibrillary acidic protein in the brain, indicating increased neuroinflammation. Tryptophan metabolism was also negatively affected. The geriatric-depressive-like rats had high levels of neurotoxic 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid and kynurenine in their hippocampus. Fish oil intake improved depressive-like symptoms and cognitive impairment, reduced proinflammatory cytokine expression, activated the brain’s glial cells, and increased the interleukin-10 level in the prefrontal cortex. Thus, fish oil intervention could ameliorate abnormal neurobehaviors and neuroinflammation and elevate the serotonin level in the hippocampus.
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