Enrichment of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n–3), in the brain is known to be critical for optimal brain development and function. Mechanisms for DHA’s beneficial effects in the nervous system are not clearly understood at present. DHA is incorporated into the phospholipids in neuronal membranes, which in turn can influence not only the membrane chemical and physical properties but also the cell signaling involved in neuronal survival, proliferation and differentiation. Our studies have indicated that DHA supplementation promotes phosphatidylserine (PS) accumulation and inhibits neuronal cell death under challenged conditions, supporting a notion that DHA is an important neuroprotective agent. This article summarizes our findings on the DHA-mediated membrane-related signaling mechanisms that might explain some of the beneficial effects of DHA, particularly on neuronal survival.
The dietary essential PUFA docosahexaenoic acid [DHA; 22:6(n-3)] is a critical contributor to cell structure and function in the nervous system, and deficits in DHA abundance are associated with cognitive decline during aging and in neurodegenerative disease. Recent studies underscore the importance of DHA-derived neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1) in the homeostatic regulation of brain cell survival and repair involving neurotrophic, antiapoptotic and antiinflammatory signaling. Emerging evidence suggests that NPD1 synthesis is activated by growth factors and neurotrophins. Evolving research indicates that NPD1 has important determinant and regulatory interactions with the molecular-genetic mechanisms affecting b-amyloid precursor protein (bAPP) and amyloid beta (Ab) peptide neurobiology. Deficits in DHA or its peroxidation appear to contribute to inflammatory signaling, apoptosis, and neuronal dysfunction in Alzheimer disease (AD), a common and progressive age-related neurological disorder unique to structures and processes of the human brain. This article briefly reviews our current understanding of the interactions of DHA and NPD1 on bAPP processing and Ab peptide signaling and how this contributes to oxidative and pathogenic processes characteristic of aging and AD pathology.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) and arachidonic acid (ARA, 20:4n-6) are the major long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) of the central nervous system (CNS). These nutrients are present in most infant formulas at modest levels, intended to support visual and neural development. There are no investigations in primates of the biological consequences of dietary DHA at levels above those present in formulas but within normal breastmilk levels.
Methods and Findings
Twelve baboons were divided into three formula groups: Control, with no DHA-ARA; “L”, LCPUFA, with 0.33%DHA-0.67%ARA; “L3”, LCPUFA, with 1.00%DHA-0.67%ARA. All the samples are from the precentral gyrus of cerebral cortex brain regions. At 12 weeks of age, changes in gene expression were detected in 1,108 of 54,000 probe sets (2.05%), with most showing <2-fold change. Gene ontology analysis assigns them to diverse biological functions, notably lipid metabolism and transport, G-protein and signal transduction, development, visual perception, cytoskeleton, peptidases, stress response, transcription regulation, and 400 transcripts having no defined function. PLA2G6, a phospholipase recently associated with infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy, was downregulated in both LCPUFA groups. ELOVL5, a PUFA elongase, was the only LCPUFA biosynthetic enzyme that was differentially expressed. Mitochondrial fatty acid carrier, CPT2, was among several genes associated with mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation to be downregulated by high DHA, while the mitochondrial proton carrier, UCP2, was upregulated. TIMM8A, also known as deafness/dystonia peptide 1, was among several differentially expressed neural development genes. LUM and TIMP3, associated with corneal structure and age-related macular degeneration, respectively, were among visual perception genes influenced by LCPUFA. TIA1, a silencer of COX2 gene translation, is upregulated by high DHA. Ingenuity pathway analysis identified a highly significant nervous system network, with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) as the outstanding interaction partner.
These data indicate that LCPUFA concentrations within the normal range of human breastmilk induce global changes in gene expression across a wide array of processes, in addition to changes in visual and neural function normally associated with formula LCPUFA.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the n-3 essential fatty acid that is highly enriched in the brain, increases neurite growth and synaptogenesis in cultured mouse fetal hippocampal neurons. These cellular effects may underlie the DHA-induced enhancement of hippocampus-dependent learning and memory functions. We found that N-docsahexaenoylethanolamide (DEA), an ethanolamide derivative of DHA, is a potent mediator for these actions. This is supported by the observation that DHA is converted to DEA by fetal mouse hippocampal neuron cultures and a hippocampal homogenate, and DEA is present endogenously in the mouse hippocampus. Furthermore, DEA stimulates neurite growth and synaptogenesis at substantially lower concentrations than DHA, and it enhances glutamatergic synaptic activities with concomitant increases in synapsin and glutamate receptor subunit expression in the hippocampal neurons. These findings suggest that DEA, an ethanolamide derivative of DHA, is a synaptogenic factor, and therefore we suggest utilizing the term ‘synaptamide’. This brief review summarizes the neuronal production and actions of synaptamide and describes other N-docosahexaenoyl amides that are present in the brain.
N-Docosahexaenoylethanolamide; Synaptamide; DHA; Hippocampus; Neuron; Anandamide; N-Docosahexaenoyl-amino acylamide
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) that is critically important for the structure, development and function of the retina and central nervous system (CNS), ultimately contributing to improved cognition. It is known that the DHA content of breast milk is positively correlated with maternal DHA intake. Since there is a lack of information about the DHA status of pregnant and lactating women in rural Taiwan. The aims of the present study were to: 1) assess the DHA status of mothers and babies in urban setting, and 2) determine the content of DHA in the milk of nursing mothers.
All pregnant women who attended the Obstetrics and Gynecology Outpatient Clinic of Kinmen Hospital on Kinmen Island in Taiwan between May 1 and May 30, 2011 were invited by research nurses to enroll in the study. The maternal blood sample was obtained on the day of their delivery. Cord blood was collected by the obstetrician following delivery. Participants were asked to visit the doctor forty-two days after the delivery, at which time a nurse collected breast milk on the day mothers were visiting the doctor for post-natal well-baby check-up.
The DHA percentages of maternal and neonatal plasma phospholipids were 5.16% and 6.36%, respectively, which are higher than values reported for most populations elsewhere in the world. The DHA percentage for the breast milk of Kinmen mothers was also high (0.98%) relation to international norms. The DHA proportions in maternal and neonatal plasma phospholipids were positively correlated (r = 0.46, p = 0.01).
We show that the DHA status of mothers and newborns on Kinmen Island is satisfactory, thereby providing an evidence-based argument for promoting breastfeeding in Taiwan.
Breast milk; Lactation; Neonates; Fish intake; Kinmen; Docosahexaenoic acid; Pregnancy; Fatty acids
Mediator lipidomics is a field of study concerned with the characterization, structural elucidation and bioactivity of lipid derivatives generated by enzymatic activity. Omega-3 fatty acids have beneficial effects for vision, brain function, cardiovascular function, and immune-inflammatory responses. Docosahexaenoic acid [DHA; 22:6(n-3)], the most abundant essential omega-3 fatty acid in the human body, is selectively enriched and avidly retained in the central nervous system as an acyl chain of phospholipids. Brain-ischemia reperfusion and seizures trigger rapid release of DHA and of arachidonic acid (AA) as free, unesterified fatty acids. AA in turn generates eicosanoids, and DHA forms docosanoids. The stereoselective docosanoid neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1; 10R,17S-dihydroxy-docosa-4Z,7Z,11E,15E,19Z hexaenoic acid) is formed early in brain-ischemia reperfusion. Supplementation of NPD1 (intracerebroventricularly; i.c.v.) or of DHA (i.c.v. or systemically) results in decreased infarct size, polymorphonuclear neutrophil infiltration, ischemia-induced nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) activation, and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) induction. DHA involvement in cell function includes enhancing Akt translocation and activation, and binding to a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-γ) family of ligand-activated nuclear receptors. Here we present an overview of recent DHA-mediator lipidomic studies in experimental brain ischemia-reperfusion and other conditions.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the most abundant essential n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid in the CNS, emerged recently together with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA/EPA metabolic derivatives as a major player in the resolution of inflammation. Protective antiinflammatory effects of DHA were reported in clinical studies and animal models of colitis, sepsis, and stroke. Here we report for the first time a beneficial effect of dietary n-3 fatty acids in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a model for human multiple sclerosis. In the present study we investigated the effects of DHA on the function of bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (DC) in CD4+ T cell stimulation and differentiation. Pretreatment of DC with DHA prevented LPS-induced DC maturation, maintaining an immature phenotype characterized by low expression of costimulatory molecules and lack of proinflammatory cytokine production (IL-12p70, IL-6 and IL-23). DHA-treated DC were poor stimulators of antigen-specific T cells in terms of proliferation and Th1/Th17 differentiation. This was associated with an increase in p27(kip1), a cell cycle arresting agent, and with decreases in Tbet, GATA-3 and RORγt, master transcription factors for Th1, Th2, and Th17. In contrast, T cells co-cultured with DC-DHA express higher levels of TGFβ and Foxp3, without exhibiting a functional Treg phenotype. Similar to the in vitro results, the beneficial effect of DHA in EAE was associated with reduced numbers of IFNγ- and IL-17-producing CD4+ T cells in both spleen and CNS.
Docosahexaenoic acid; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; IL-12; IL-23; Th1; Th17; Foxp3; Tbet; RORγt
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, C22:6,n−3) has been shown to promote neurite growth and synaptogenesis in embryonic hippocampal neurons, supporting the importance of DHA known for hippocampus-related learning and memory function. In the present study, we demonstrate that DHA metabolism to DEA (N-docosahexaenoylethanolamide) is a significant mechanism for hippocampal neuronal development, contributing to synaptic function. We found that a fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitor URB597 potentiates DHA-induced neurite growth, synaptogenesis and synaptic protein expression. Active metabolism of DHA to DEA was observed in embryonic day 18 hippocampal neuronal cultures, which was increased further by URB597. Synthetic DEA promoted hippocampal neurite growth and synaptogenesis at substantially lower concentrations in comparison with DHA. DEA-treated neurons increased the expression of synapsins and glutamate receptor subunits and exhibited enhanced glutamatergic synaptic activity, as was the case for DHA. The DEA level in mouse fetal hippocampi was altered according to the maternal dietary supply of n−3 fatty acids, suggesting that DEA formation is a relevant in vivo process responding to the DHA status. In conclusion, DHA metabolism to DEA is a significant biochemical mechanism for neurite growth, synaptogenesis and synaptic protein expression, leading to enhanced glutamatergic synaptic function. The novel DEA-dependent mechanism offers a new molecular insight into hippocampal neurodevelopment and function.
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); N-docosahexaenoylethanolamide (DEA); hippocampus; neurite growth; neuron; synaptogenesis
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the major polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in the brain and a structural component of neuronal membranes. Changes in DHA content of neuronal membranes lead to functional changes in the activity of receptors and other proteins which might be associated with synaptic function. Accumulating evidence suggests the beneficial effects of dietary DHA supplementation on neurotransmission. This article reviews the beneficial effects of DHA on the brain; uptake, incorporation and release of DHA at synapses, effects of DHA on synapses, effects of DHA on neurotransmitters, DHA metabolites, and changes in DHA with age. Further studies to better understand the metabolome of DHA could result in more effective use of this molecule for treatment of neurodegenerative or neuropsychiatric diseases.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA); Neurodegeneration; Depression; Anti-nociception
Numerous studies on perinatal long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid nutrition have clarified the influence of dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) on central nervous system PUFA concentrations. In humans, omnivorous primates, and piglets, DHA and ARA plasma and red blood cells concentrations rise with dietary preformed DHA and ARA. Brain and retina DHA are responsive to diet while ARA is not. DHA is at highest concentration cells and tissues associated with high energy consumption, consistent with high DHA levels in mitochondria and synaptosomes. DHA is a substrate for docosanoids, signaling compounds of intense current interest. The high concentration in tissues with high rates of oxidative metabolism may be explained by a critical role related to oxidative metabolism.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3), the major polyunsaturated fatty acid accumulated in the brain during development, has been implicated in learning and memory, but underlying cellular mechanisms are not clearly understood. Here, we demonstrate that DHA significantly affects hippocampal neuronal development and synaptic function in developing hippocampi. In embryonic neuronal cultures, DHA supplementation uniquely promoted neurite growth, synapsin puncta formation and synaptic protein expression, particularly synapsins and glutamate receptors. In DHA-supplemented neurons, spontaneous synaptic activity was significantly increased, mostly because of enhanced glutamatergic synaptic activity. Conversely, hippocampal neurons from DHA-depleted fetuses showed inhibited neurite growth and synaptogenesis. Furthermore, n-3 fatty acid deprivation during development resulted in marked decreases of synapsins and glutamate receptor subunits in the hippocampi of 18-day-old pups with concomitant impairment of long-term potentiation, a cellular mechanism underlying learning and memory. While levels of synapsins and NMDA receptor subunit NR2A were decreased in most hippocampal regions, NR2A expression was particularly reduced in CA3, suggesting possible role of DHA in CA3-NMDA receptor-dependent learning and memory processes. The DHA-induced neurite growth, synaptogenesis, synapsin, and glutamate receptor expression, and glutamatergic synaptic function may represent important cellular aspects supporting the hippocampus-related cognitive function improved by DHA.
docosahexaenoic acid; hippocampal development; long-term potentiation; neurite growth; synaptic function; synaptogenesis
The harmony and function of the complex brain circuits and synapses are sustained mainly by excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission, neurotrophins, gene regulation, and factors, many of which are incompletely understood. A common feature of brain circuit components, such as dendrites, synaptic membranes, and other membranes of the nervous system, is that they are richly endowed in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the main member of the omega-3 essential fatty acid family. DHA is avidly retained and concentrated in the nervous system and known to play a role in neuroprotection, memory, and vision. Only recently has it become apparent why the surprisingly rapid increases in free (unesterified) DHA pool size take place at the onset of seizures or brain injury. This phenomenon began to be clarified by the discovery of neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), the first-uncovered bioactive docosanoid formed from free DHA through 15-lipoxygenase-1 (15-LOX-1). NPD1 synthesis includes, as agonists, oxidative stress and neurotrophins. The evolving concept is that DHA-derived docosanoids set in motion endogenous signaling to sustain homeostatic synaptic and circuit integrity. NPD1 is anti-inflammatory, displays inflammatory resolving activities, and induces cell survival, which is in contrast to the pro-inflammatory actions of the many of omega-6 fatty acid family members. We highlight here studies relevant to the ability of DHA to sustain neuronal function and protect synapses and circuits in the context of DHA signalolipidomics. DHA signalolipidomics comprises the integration of the cellular/tissue mechanism of DHA uptake, its distribution among cellular compartments, the organization and function of membrane domains containing DHA phospholipids, and the precise cellular and molecular events revealed by the uncovering of signaling pathways regulated by docosanoids endowed with prohomeostatic and cell survival bioactivity. Therefore, this approach offers emerging targets for prevention, pharmaceutical intervention, and clinical translation involving DHA-mediated signaling.
Epilepsy; Neuroprotectin D1; Photoreceptors; Retinal pigment epithelial cells; Liver
The pathology of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is characterized by the decreased capacity of neurons to metabolize energy and sustain synaptic function, likely resulting in cognitive and emotional disorders. Based on the broad nature of the pathology, we have assessed the potential of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to counteract the effects of concussive injury on important aspects of neuronal function and cognition. Fluid percussion injury (FPI) or sham injury was performed, and rats were then maintained on a diet high in DHA (1.2% DHA) for 12 days. We found that DHA supplementation, which elevates brain DHA content, normalized levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), synapsin I (Syn-1), cAMP-responsive element-binding protein (CREB), and calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII), and improved learning ability in FPI rats. It is known that BDNF facilitates synaptic transmission and learning ability by modulating Syn-I, CREB, and CaMKII signaling. The DHA diet also counteracted the FPI-reduced manganese superoxide dismutase (SOD) and Sir2 (a NAD+-dependent deacetylase). Given the involvement of SOD and Sir2 in promoting metabolic homeostasis, DHA may help the injured brain by providing resistance to oxidative stress. Furthermore, DHA normalized levels of calcium-independent phospholipase A2 (iPLA2) and syntaxin-3, which may help preserve membrane homeostasis and function after FPI. The overall results emphasize the potential of dietary DHA to counteract broad and fundamental aspects of TBI pathology that may translate into preserved cognitive capacity.
brain-derived neurotrophic factor; plasticity; Sir2; superoxide dismutase; traumatic brain injury
Preclinical and clinical evidence suggests that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid derived from diet or synthesized in the liver, decreases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). DHA levels are reduced in the brain of subjects with AD, but it is still unclear whether human dementias are associated with dysregulations of DHA metabolism. A systems biological view of omega-3 fatty acid metabolism offered unexpected insights on the regulation of DHA homeostasis in AD1. Results of multi-organ lipidomic analyses were integrated with clinical and gene-expression data sets to develop testable hypotheses on the functional significance of lipid abnormalities observed and on their possible mechanistic bases. One surprising outcome of this integrative approach was the discovery that the liver of AD patients has a limited capacity to convert shorter chain omega-3 fatty acids into DHA due to a deficit in the peroxisomal D-bifunctional protein. This deficit may contribute to the decrease in brain DHA levels and contribute to cognitive impairment.
Docosahexenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) plays an important role in development of proper brain function in mammals. We have previously reported that DHA promotes synaptogenesis and synaptic function in hippocampal neurons while DHA-depletion in the brain due to n-3 fatty acid deficiency produces opposite effects. To gain insight into underlying molecular mechanisms, we investigated whether the brain DHA status affects the synaptic plasma membrane (SPM) proteome by using nanoLC/ESI-MS/MS and 16O/18O labeling. The DHA level in mouse brains was lowered by dietary depletion of n-3 fatty acids, and SPM was prepared by differential centrifugation followed by osmotic shock. SPM proteins from DHA-adequate and depleted brains were analyzed by nanoLC/ESI-MS/MS after SDS-PAGE, in-gel digestion and differential O18/O16 labeling. This strategy allowed comparative quantitation of more than 200 distinct membrane or membrane-associated proteins from DHA-adequate or depleted brains. We found that 18 pre- and postsynaptic proteins that are relevant to synaptic physiology were significantly down-regulated in DHA-depleted mouse brains. The protein network analysis suggests involvement of CREB and caspase-3 pathways in the DHA-dependent modulation of synaptic proteome. Reduction of specific synaptic proteins due to brain DHA-depletion may be an important mechanism for the suboptimal brain function associated with n-3 fatty acid deficiency.
Synaptic plasma membrane (SPM); synaptic proteins; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); 18O labeling; nano-LC/ESI-MS/MS; brain
Learning and memory depend on dendritic spine actin assembly and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential n-3 (omega-3) polyunsaturated fatty acid (PFA). High DHA consumption is associated with reduced Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk, yet mechanisms and therapeutic potential remain elusive. Here, we report that reduction of dietary n-3 PFA in an AD mouse model resulted in 80%–90% losses of the p85α subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and the postsynaptic actin-regulating protein drebrin, as in AD brain. The loss of postsynaptic proteins was associated with increased oxidation, without concomitant neuron or pre-synaptic protein loss. N-3 PFA depletion increased caspase-cleaved actin, which was localized in dendrites ultrastructurally. Treatment of n-3 PFA-restricted mice with DHA protected against these effects and behavioral deficits and increased antiapoptotic BAD phosphorylation. Since n-3 PFAs are essential for p85-mediated CNS insulin signaling and selective protection of postsynaptic proteins, these findings have implications for neurodegenerative diseases where synaptic loss is critical, especially AD.
Omega-3 fatty acids (i.e., docosahexaenoic acid; DHA), similar to exercise, improve cognitive function, promote neuroplasticity, and protect against neurological lesion. In this study, we investigated a possible synergistic action between DHA dietary supplementation and voluntary exercise on modulating synaptic plasticity and cognition. Rats received DHA dietary supplementation (1.25% DHA) with or without voluntary exercise for 12 days. We found that the DHA-enriched diet significantly increased spatial learning ability, and these effects were enhanced by exercise. The DHA-enriched diet increased levels of pro-BDNF and mature BDNF, whereas the additional application of exercise boosted the levels of both. Furthermore, the levels of the activated forms of CREB and synapsin I were incremented by the DHA-enriched diet with greater elevation by the concurrent application of exercise. While the DHA diet reduced hippocampal oxidized protein levels, a combination of a DHA diet and exercise resulted in a greater reduction rate. The levels of activated forms of hippocampal Akt and CaMKII were increased by the DHA-enriched diet, and with even greater elevation by a combination of diet and exercise. Akt and CaMKII signaling are crucial step by which BDNF exerts its action on synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. These results indicate that the DHA diet enhance the effects of exercise on cognition and BDNF-related synaptic plasticity, a capacity that may be used to promote mental health and reduce risk of neurological disorders.
DHA; exercise; BDNF; omega-3 fatty acids; cognition
Childhood is a period of brain growth and maturation. The long chain omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is a major lipid in the brain recognized as essential for normal brain function. In animals, low brain DHA results in impaired learning and behavior. In infants, DHA is important for optimal visual and cognitive development. The usual intake of DHA among toddlers and children is low and some studies show improvements in cognition and behavior as the result of supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids including DHA. The purpose of this review was to identify and evaluate current knowledge regarding the relationship of DHA with measures of learning and behavior in healthy school-age children. A systematic search of the literature identified 15 relevant publications for review. The search found studies which were diverse in purpose and design and without consistent conclusions regarding the treatment effect of DHA intake or biomarker status on specific cognitive tests. However, studies of brain activity reported benefits of DHA supplementation and over half of the studies reported a favorable role for DHA or long chain omega-3 fatty acids in at least one area of cognition or behavior. Studies also suggested an important role for DHA in school performance.
docosahexaenoic acid; children; learning; behavior; school performance
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain growth and development. They play an important role throughout life, as critical modulators of neuronal function and regulation of oxidative stress mechanisms, in brain health and disease. Docosahexanoic acid (DHA), the major omega-3 fatty acid found in neurons, has taken on a central role as a target for therapeutic intervention in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A plethora of in vitro, animal model, and human data, gathered over the past decade, highlight the important role DHA may play in the development of a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including AD. Cross sectional and prospective cohort data have demonstrated that reduced dietary intake or low brain levels of DHA are associated with accelerated cognitive decline or the development of incipient dementia, including AD. Several clinical trials investigating the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in AD have been completed and all failed to demonstrate its efficacy in the treatment of AD. However, these trials produced intriguing data suggesting that the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may depend on the stage of disease, other dietary mediators, and apolipoprotein E status.
Alzheimer’s disease; omega-3 fatty acids; oxidative stress; clinical studies; treatment
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, is an essential component of membrane phosphatides and has been implicated in cognitive functions. Low levels of circulating or brain DHA are associated with various neurocognitive disorders including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), while laboratory animals, including animal models of AD, can exhibit improved cognitive ability with a diet enriched in DHA. Various cellular mechanisms have been proposed for DHA’s behavioral effects, including increases in cellular membrane fluidity, promotion of neurite extension, and inhibition of apoptosis. However, there is little direct evidence that DHA affects synaptic structure in living animals. Here we show that oral supplementation with DHA substantially increases the number of dendritic spines in adult gerbil hippocampus, particularly when animals are co-supplemented with a uridine source, uridine-5’-monophosphate (UMP), which increases brain levels of the rate-limiting phosphatide precursor CTP. The increase in dendritic spines (> 30%) is accompanied by parallel increases in membrane phosphatides, and in pre- and post-synaptic proteins within the hippocampus. Hence oral DHA may promote neuronal membrane synthesis to increase the number of synapses, particularly when co-administered with UMP. Our findings provide a possible explanation for the effects of DHA on behavior and also suggest a strategy to treat cognitive disorders resulting from synapse loss.
docosahexaenoic acid; uridine; membrane synthesis; spine formation; synaptogenesis; phosphatides
Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are considered essential omega-3 fatty acids in human nutrition. In marine microalgae EPA and/or DHA are allegedly involved in the regulation of membrane fluidity and thylakoid membrane functioning. The cellular content of EPA and DHA may therefore be enhanced at low temperature and irradiance conditions. As a result, polar and cold temperate marine microalgal species might potentially be suitable candidates for commercial EPA and DHA production, given their adaptation to low temperature and irradiance habitats.
In the present study we investigated inter- and intraspecific EPA and DHA variability in five polar and (cold) temperate microalgae. Intraspecific EPA and DHA content did not vary significantly in an Antarctic (Chaetoceros brevis) and a temperate (Thalassiosira weissflogii) centric diatom after acclimation to a range of irradiance levels at two temperatures. Interspecific variability was investigated for two Antarctic (Chaetoceros brevis and Pyramimonas sp. (Prasinophyceae)) and three cold-temperate species (Thalassiosira weissflogii, Emiliania huxleyi (Prymnesiophyceae) and Fibrocapsa japonica (Raphidophyceae)) during exponential growth. Interspecific variability was shown to be much more important than intraspecific variability. Highest relative and absolute levels of DHA were measured in the prymnesiophyte E. huxleyi and the prasinophyte Pyramimonas sp., while levels of EPA were high in the raphidophyte F. japonica and the diatoms C. brevis and T. weissflogii. Yet, no significant differences in LC-PUFA content were found between polar and cold-temperate species. Also, EPA and DHA production rates varied strongly between species. Highest EPA production rate (174 μg L-1 day-1) was found in the Antarctic diatom Chaetoceros brevis, while DHA production was highest in the cold-temperate prymnesiophyte Emiliania huxleyi (164 μg L-1 day-1). We show that, following careful species selection, effective mass cultivation of marine microalgae for EPA and DHA production may be possible under low temperature and irradiance conditions.
Eicosapentaenoic acid; Docosahexaenoic acid; Thalassiosira weissflogii; Chaetoceros brevis; Fibrocapsa japonica; Emiliania huxleyi; Pyramimonas sp.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential nutrients for humans. They are structural and functional components of cell membranes and pre-stages of the hormonally and immunologically active eicosanoids. Recent discoveries have shown that the long-chained omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) also play an important role in the central nervous system. They are essential for normal brain functioning including attention and other neuropsychological skills.
Materials and methods
In our large observational study we monitored 810 children from 5 to 12 years of age referred for medical help and recommended for consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in combination with zinc and magnesium by a physician over a period of at least 3 months. The food supplement ESPRICO® (further on referred to as the food supplement) is developed on the basis of current nutritional science and containing a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as magnesium and zinc. Study objective was to evaluate the nutritional effects of the PUFA-zinc-magnesium combination on symptoms of attention deficit, impulsivity, and hyperactivity as well as on emotional problems and sleep related parameters. Assessment was performed by internationally standardised evaluation scales, i.e. SNAP-IV and SDQ. Tolerance (adverse events) and acceptance (compliance) of the dietary therapy were documented.
After 12 weeks of consumption of a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as magnesium and zinc most subjects showed a considerable reduction in symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity/impulsivity assessed by SNAP-IV. Further, the assessment by SDQ revealed fewer emotional problems at the end of the study period compared to baseline and also sleeping disorders. Mainly problems to fall asleep, decreased during the 12 week nutritional therapy. Regarding safety, no serious adverse events occurred. A total of 16 adverse events with a possible causal relationship to the study medication were reported by 14 children (1.7%) and only 5.2% of the children discontinued the study due to acceptance problems. Continuation of consumption of the food supplement was recommended by the paediatricians for 61.1% of the children.
Our results suggest a beneficial effect of a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as magnesium and zinc consumption on attentional, behavioural, and emotional problems of children and adolescents. Thus, considering the behavioural benefit in combination with the low risk due to a good safety profile, the dietary supplementation with PUFA in combination with zinc and magnesium can be recommended.
Mitochondria can depolarize and trigger cell death through the opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP). We recently showed that an increase in the long chain n3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n3) and depletion of the n6 PUFA arachidonic acid (ARA; 20:4n6) in mitochondrial membranes is associated with a greater Ca2+ load required to induce MPTP opening. Here we manipulated mitochondrial phospholipid composition by supplementing the diet with DHA, ARA or combined DHA+ARA in rats for 10 weeks. There were no effects on cardiac function, or respiration of isolated mitochondria. Analysis of mitochondrial phospholipids showed DHA supplementation increased DHA and displaced ARA in mitochondrial membranes, while supplementation with ARA or DHA+ARA increased ARA and depleted linoleic acid (18:2n6). Phospholipid analysis revealed a similar pattern, particularly in cardiolipin. Tetralinoleoyl cardiolipin was depleted by 80% with ARA or DHA+ARA supplementation, with linoleic acid side chains replaced by ARA. Both the DHA and ARA groups had delayed Ca2+-induced MPTP opening, but the DHA+ARA group was similar to the control diet. In conclusion, alterations in mitochondria membrane phospholipid fatty acid composition caused by dietary DHA or ARA was associated with a greater cumulative Ca2+ load required to induced MPTP opening. Further, high levels of tetralinoleoyl cardiolipin were not essential for normal mitochondrial function if replaced with very-long chain n3 or n6 PUFAs.
Docosahexaenoic acid, a major omega-3 essential fatty acid family member, improves behavioral deficit and reduces infarct volume and edema after experimental focal cerebral ischemia. We hypothesize that DHA elicits neuroprotection by inducing AKT/p70S6K phosphorylation, which in turn leads to cell survival and protects against ischemic stroke in young and aged rats.
Methods and Results
Rats underwent 2 h of middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo). DHA, neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1) or vehicle (saline) was administered 3 h after onset of stroke. Neurological function was evaluated on days 1, 2, 3, and 7. DHA treatment improved functional recovery and reduced cortical, subcortical and total infarct volumes 7 days after stroke. DHA also reduced microglia infiltration and increased the number of astrocytes and neurons when compared to vehicle on days 1 and 7. Increases in p473 AKT and p308 AKT phosphorylation/activation were observed in animals treated with DHA 4 h after MCAo. Activation of other members of the AKT signaling pathway were also observed in DHA treated animals including increases in pS6 at 4 h and pGSK at 24 h. DHA or NPD1 remarkably reduced total and cortical infarct in aged rats. Moreover, we show that in young and aged rats DHA treatment after MCAo potentiates NPD1 biosynthesis. The phosphorylation of p308 AKT or pGSK was not different between groups in aged rats. However, pS6 expression was increased with DHA or NPD1 treatment when compared to vehicle.
We suggest that DHA induces cell survival, modulates the neuroinflammatory response and triggers long term restoration of synaptic circuits. Both DHA and NPD1 elicited remarkable protection in aged animals. Accordingly, activation of DHA signaling might provide benefits in the management of ischemic stroke both acutely as well as long term to limit ensuing disabilities.
In multiple sclerosis (MS), compromised blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity contributes to inflammatory T cell migration into the central nervous system. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is associated with BBB disruption and subsequent T cell migration into the CNS. The aim of this paper was to evaluate the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on MMP-9 levels and T cell migration. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from healthy controls were pretreated with two types of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Cell supernatants were used to determine MMP-9 protein and activity levels. Jurkat cells were pretreated with EPA and DHA and were added to fibronectin-coated transwells to measure T cell migration. EPA and DHA significantly decreased MMP-9 protein levels, MMP-9 activity, and significantly inhibited human T cell migration. The data suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may benefit patients with multiple sclerosis by modulating immune cell production of MMP-9.