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1.  Dopamine receptor alterations in female rats with diet-induced decreased brain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): interactions with reproductive status 
Nutritional Neuroscience  2010;13(4):161-169.
Decreased tissue levels of n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are implicated in the etiologies of non-puerperal and postpartum depression. This study examined the effects of a diet-induced loss of brain DHA content and concurrent reproductive status on dopaminergic parameters in adult female Long–Evans rats. An α-linolenic acid-deficient diet and breeding protocols were used to produce virgin and parous female rats with cortical phospholipid DHA levels 20–22% lower than those fed a control diet containing adequate α-linolenic acid. Decreased brain DHA produced a significant main effect of decreased density of ventral striatal D2-like receptors. Virgin females with decreased DHA also exhibited higher density of D1-like receptors in the caudate nucleus than virgin females with normal DHA. These receptor alterations are similar to those found in several rodent models of depression, and are consistent with the proposed hypodopaminergic basis for anhedonia and motivational deficits in depression.
PMCID: PMC2955509  PMID: 20670471
omega-3; polyunsaturated fatty acid; dopamine receptor; postpartum; docosahexaenoic acid; rat
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is required for normal brain function. The concentration of DHA in the brain depends on both diet and liver metabolism.
To determine rat brain DHA concentration and consumption in relation to dietary n-3 (omega-3) polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) content and liver secretion of DHA derived from circulating α-linolenic acid (α-LNA).
Following weaning, male rats were fed for 15 weeks either: (1) a diet with a high DHA and α-LNA content, (2) an n-3 PUFA “adequate” diet containing 4.6% α-LNA but no DHA, or (3) an n-3 PUFA “deficient” diet containing 0.2% α-LNA and no DHA. Brain DHA consumption rates were measured following intravenous infusion in unanesthetized rats of [1-14C]DHA, whereas liver and brain DHA synthesis rates were measured by infusing [1-14C]α-LNA.
Brain DHA concentrations equaled 17.6 μm/g, 11.4 μm/g and 7.14 μm/g in rats on diets 1, 2 and 3, respectively. With each diet, the rate of brain DHA synthesis from α-LNA was much less than the brain DHA consumption rate, whereas the liver synthesis-secretion rate was 5-10 fold higher. Higher elongase 2 and 5 and desaturase Δ5 and Δ6 activities in liver than in brain accounted for the higher liver DHA synthesis rates; these enzymes were transcriptionally upregulated in liver but not in brain of rats fed the deficient diet.
While DHA is essential to normal brain function, this need might be covered by dietary α-LNA when liver metabolic conversion machinery is intact and the diet has a high α-LNA content.
PMCID: PMC2967256  PMID: 19540098
docosahexaenoic acid; liver; brain; rat; n-3; omega-3; PUFA; imaging; metabolism; diet; synthesis; α-linolenic acid
3.  Short term effects of different omega-3 fatty acid formulation on lipid metabolism in mice fed high or low fat diet 
Bioactivities of Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) depend on their chemical forms. The present study was to investigate short term effects of triglyceride (TG), ethyl ester (EE), free fatty acid (FFA) and phospholipid (PL) forms of omega-3 fatty acid (FA) on lipid metabolism in mice, fed high fat or low fat diet.
Male Balb/c mice were fed with 0.7% different Omega-3 fatty acid formulation: DHA bound free fatty acid (DHA-FFA), DHA bound triglyceride (DHA-TG), DHA bound ethyl ester (DHA-EE) and DHA bound phospholipid (DHA-PL) for 1 week, with dietary fat levels at 5% and 22.5%. Serum and hepatic lipid concentrations were analyzed, as well as the fatty acid composition of liver and brain.
At low fat level, serum total cholesterol (TC) level in mice fed diets with DHA-FFA, DHA-EE and DHA-PL were significantly lower than that in the control group (P < 0.05). Hepatic TG level decreased significantly in mice fed diets with DHA-TG (P < 0.05), DHA-EE (P < 0.05) and DHA-PL (P < 0.05), while TC level in liver was significantly lower in mice fed diets with TG and EE compared with the control group (P < 0.05). At high fat level, mice fed diets with DHA-EE and DHA-PL had significantly lower hepatic TC level compared with the control diet (P < 0.05). Hepatic PL concentration experienced a significant increase in mice fed the diet with PL at high fat level (P < 0.05). Furthermore, both at low and high fat levels, hepatic DHA level significantly increased and AA level significantly decreased in all forms of DHA groups (P < 0.05), compared to control groups at two different fat levels, respectively. Additionally, cerebral DHA level in mice fed diets with DHA-FFA, DHA-EE and DHA-PL significantly increased compared with the control at high fat level (P < 0.05), but no significant differences were observed among dietary treatments for mice fed diets with low fat level.
The present study suggested that not only total dietary fat content but also the molecular forms of omega-3 fatty acids contributed to lipid metabolism in mice. DHA-PL showed effective bioactivity in decreasing hepatic and serum TC, TG levels and increasing omega-3 concentration in liver and brain.
PMCID: PMC3393618  PMID: 22676394
Omega-3 fatty acid; DHA; EPA; Lipid metabolism; Triglycerides; Ethyl ester; Phospholipids
4.  Gender Differences in Rat Erythrocyte and Brain Docosahexaenoic Acid Composition: Role of Ovarian Hormones and Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Composition 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2008;34(4):532-539.
The two-fold higher prevalence rate of major depression in females may involve vulnerability to omega-3 fatty acid deficiency secondary to a dysregulation in ovarian hormones. However, the role of ovarian hormones in the regulation of brain omega-3 fatty acid composition has not been directly evaluated. Here we determined erythrocyte and regional brain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) composition in intact male and female rats, and in chronically ovariectomized (OVX) rats with or without cyclic estradiol treatment (2 μg/4 d). All groups were maintained on diets with or without the DHA precursor alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3n-3). We report that both male (−21%) and OVX (−19%) rats on ALA+ diet exhibited significantly lower erythrocyte DHA composition relative to female controls. Females on ALA+ diet exhibited lower DHA composition in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) relative males (−5%). OVX rats on ALA+ diet exhibited significantly lower DHA composition in the hippocampus (−6%), but not in the PFC, hypothalamus, or midbrain. Lower erythrocyte and hippocampus DHA composition in OVX rats was not prevented by estrogen replacement. All groups maintained on ALA− diet exhibited significantly lower erythrocyte and regional brain DHA composition relative to groups on ALA+ diet, and these reductions were greater in males but not in OVX rats. These preclinical data corroborate clinical evidence for gender differences in peripheral DHA composition (female>male), demonstrate gender differences in PFC DHA composition (male>female), and support a link between ovarian hormones and erythrocyte and region-specific brain DHA composition.
PMCID: PMC2692269  PMID: 19046819
Omega-3 fatty acids; docosahexaenoic acid; alpha-linolenic acid; ovariectomy; estrogen; prefrontal cortex; hippocampus; hypothalamus; midbrain; gender; rat
5.  Whole body synthesis rates of DHA from α-linolenic acid are greater than brain DHA accretion and uptake rates in adult rats[S] 
Journal of Lipid Research  2014;55(1):62-74.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is important for brain function, however, the exact amount required for the brain is not agreed upon. While it is believed that the synthesis rate of DHA from α-linolenic acid (ALA) is low, how this synthesis rate compares with the amount of DHA required to maintain brain DHA levels is unknown. The objective of this work was to assess whether DHA synthesis from ALA is sufficient for the brain. To test this, rats consumed a diet low in n-3 PUFAs, or a diet containing ALA or DHA for 15 weeks. Over the 15 weeks, whole body and brain DHA accretion was measured, while at the end of the study, whole body DHA synthesis rates, brain gene expression, and DHA uptake rates were measured. Despite large differences in body DHA accretion, there was no difference in brain DHA accretion between rats fed ALA and DHA. In rats fed ALA, DHA synthesis and accretion was 100-fold higher than brain DHA accretion of rats fed DHA. Also, ALA-fed rats synthesized approximately 3-fold more DHA than the DHA uptake rate into the brain. This work indicates that DHA synthesis from ALA may be sufficient to supply the brain.
PMCID: PMC3927474  PMID: 24212299
brain; docosahexaenoic acid; kinetics; a-linolenic-acid; liver; synthesis; conversion
6.  Altered Essential Fatty Acid Metabolism and Composition in Rat Liver, Plasma, Heart and Brain After Microalgal DHA Addition to the Diet 
To investigate the effect of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) without other highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA) on n-3 and n-6 essential fatty acid (EFA) metabolism and fatty acid composition in mammals, a stable isotope tracer technique was used in adult rats fed diets with or without 1.3% of algal DHA in a base diet containing 15% of linoleic acid and 3% of alpha-linolenic acid over 8 weeks. The rats were administered orally a mixed oil containing 48 mg/kg body weight of deuterated linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids and euthanized at 4, 8, 24, 96, 168, 240, 360 and 600 h after administration of the isotopes. Fatty acid compositions and the concentrations of deuterated precursors and their respective metabolites were determined in rat liver, plasma, heart and brain as a function of time. DHA, docosapentaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the n-3 EFA family were significantly increased in all organs tested in the DHA-fed group, ranging from 5 to 200% greater in comparison with the control group. The accumulation of the metabolites, deuterated-DHA and deuterated-docosapentaenoic acid n-6 were greatly decreased by 1.5 to 2.5 fold in the dietary DHA group. In summary, feeding preformed DHA led to a marked increase in n-3 HUFA content of rat organs at the expense of n-6 HUFA and also prevented the accumulation of newly synthesized deuterated end products. This is the first study which has isolated the effects of DHA on the de novo metabolism on both the n-6 and n-3 EFA pathways.
PMCID: PMC3075345  PMID: 21111595
alpha-linolenic acid; linoleic acid; docosahexaenoic acid; docosapentaenoic acid; essential fatty acid; stable isotope; GC/MS; metabolism
7.  Differential effect of maternal diet supplementation with α-Linolenic adcid or n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on glial cell phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylserine fatty acid profile in neonate rat brains 
Dietary long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) are of crucial importance for the development of neural tissues. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of a dietary supplementation in n-3 fatty acids in female rats during gestation and lactation on fatty acid pattern in brain glial cells phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylserine (PS) in the neonates.
Sprague-Dawley rats were fed during the whole gestation and lactation period with a diet containing either docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 0.55%) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 0.75% of total fatty acids) or α-linolenic acid (ALA, 2.90%). At two weeks of age, gastric content and brain glial cell PE and PS of rat neonates were analyzed for their fatty acid and dimethylacetal (DMA) profile. Data were analyzed by bivariate and multivariate statistics.
In the neonates from the group fed with n-3 LC-PUFA, the DHA level in gastric content (+65%, P < 0.0001) and brain glial cell PE (+18%, P = 0.0001) and PS (+15%, P = 0.0009) were significantly increased compared to the ALA group. The filtered correlation analysis (P < 0.05) underlined that levels of dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA), DHA and n-3 docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) were negatively correlated with arachidonic acid (ARA) and n-6 DPA in PE of brain glial cells. No significant correlation between n-3 and n-6 LC-PUFA were found in the PS dataset. DMA level in PE was negatively correlated with n-6 DPA. DMA were found to occur in brain glial cell PS fraction; in this class DMA level was correlated negatively with DHA and positively with ARA.
The present study confirms that early supplementation of maternal diet with n-3 fatty acids supplied as LC-PUFA is more efficient in increasing n-3 in brain glial cell PE and PS in the neonate than ALA. Negative correlation between n-6 DPA, a conventional marker of DHA deficiency, and DMA in PE suggests n-6 DPA that potentially be considered as a marker of tissue ethanolamine plasmalogen status. The combination of multivariate and bivariate statistics allowed to underline that the accretion pattern of n-3 LC-PUFA in PE and PS differ.
PMCID: PMC2819247  PMID: 20148111
8.  Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency During Perinatal Development Increases Serotonin Turnover in the Prefrontal Cortex and Decreases Midbrain Tryptophan Hydroxylase-2 Expression in Adult Female Rats: Dissociation from Estrogenic Effects 
Journal of psychiatric research  2008;43(6):656-663.
A dysregulation in central serotonin neurotransmission and omega-3 fatty acid deficiency have been implicated in the pathophysiology of major depression. To determine the effects of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency on indices of serotonin neurotransmission in the adult rat brain, female rats were fed diets with or without the omega-3 fatty acid precursor α-linolenic acid (ALA) during perinatal (E0–P90), post-weaning (P21–P90), and post-pubescent (P60–130) development. Ovariectomized (OVX) rats and OVX rats with cyclic estrogen treatment were also examined. Serotonin (5-HT) and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) content, and fatty acid composition were determined in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and tryptophan hydroxylase-2 (TPH-2), serotonin transporter, and 5-HT1A autoreceptor mRNA expression were determined in the midbrain. ALA deficiency during perinatal (−62%, p=0.0001), post-weaning (−34%, p=0.0001), and post-pubertal (−10%, p=0.0001) development resulted in a graded reduction in adult PFC docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) composition. Relative to controls, perinatal DHA-deficient rats exhibited significantly lower PFC 5-HT content (−65%, p=0.001), significant greater 5-HIAA content (+15%, p=0.046), and a significant greater 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio (+73%, p=0.001). Conversely, post-weaning DHA-deficient rats exhibited significantly greater PFC 5-HT content (+12%, p=0.03), no change in 5-HIAA content, and a significantly smaller 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio (−9%, p=0.01). Post-pubertal DHA-deficient and OXV rats did not exhibit significant alterations in PFC 5-HT or 5-HIAA content. Only perinatal DHA-deficient rats exhibited a significant reduction in midbrain TPH-2 mRNA expression (−29%, p=0.03). These preclinical data support a causal link between perinatal omega-3 fatty acid deficiency and reduced central serotonin synthesis in adult female rats that is independent of ovarian hormones.
PMCID: PMC2679262  PMID: 18986658
Omega-3 fatty acids; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); 5-HT; 5-HIAA; estrogen; prefrontal cortex; tryptophan hydroxylase-2; serotonin transporter; 5-HT1A; female; rat
9.  Brain metabolism of nutritionally essential polyunsaturated fatty acids depends on both the diet and the liver 
Plasma α-linolenic acid (α-LNA, 18:3n-3) or linoleic acid (LA, 18:2n-6) does not contribute significantly to the brain content of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) or arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6), respectively, and neither DHA nor AA can be synthesized de novo in vertebrate tissue. Therefore, measured rates of incorporation of circulating DHA or AA into brain exactly represent the rates of consumption by brain. Positron emission tomography (PET) has been used to show, based on this information, that the adult human brain consumes AA and DHA at rates of 17.8 and 4.6 mg/day, respectively, and that AA consumption does not change significantly with age. In unanesthetized adult rats fed an n-3 PUFA “adequate” diet containing 4.6% α-LNA (of total fatty acids) as its only n-3 PUFA, the rate of liver synthesis of DHA is more than sufficient to replace maintain brain DHA, whereas the brain’s rate of synthesis is very low and unable to do so. Reducing dietary α-LNA in an DHA-free diet fed to rats leads to upregulation of liver coefficients of α-LNA conversion to DHA and of liver expression of elongases and desaturases that catalyze this conversion. Concurrently, the brain DHA loss slows due to downregulation of several of its DHA-metabolizing enzymes. Dietary α-LNA deficiency also promotes accumulation of brain docosapentaenoic acid (22:5n-6), and upregulates expression of AA-metabolizing enzymes, including cytosolic and secretory phospholipase A2 and cyclooxygenase-2. These changes, plus reduced levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB), likely render the brain more vulnerable to neuropathological insults.
PMCID: PMC2725409  PMID: 18060754
docosahexaenoic acid; liver; brain; rat; n-3 PUFAs; imaging; metabolism; phospholipase A2; BDNF; diet; arachidonic acid
10.  The use of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation to ameliorate the hyperactivity of rat pups induced by in utero ethanol exposure 
It has been demonstrated thatin utero ethanol (EtOH) exposure induces hyperactive behavior and learning disturbances in offspring. In order to investigate the effects of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on these neurobehavioral dysfunctions of rat pups induced byin utero EtOH exposure, pregnant Wistar rats were divided into four treatment groups depending on the type of oil added to the diet and drinking water as follows; (a) 5% safflower oil with tap water (TW/n-6), (b) 3% safflower oil and 2% DHA with tap water (TW/n-3), (c) 5% safflower oil with 10%-EtOH (ET/n-6), (d) 3% safflower oil and 2% DHA with 10%-EtOH (ET/n-3) at gestational day (GD) 7.
10%-EtOH was administered to dams in ET/n-6 and ET/n-3 groups from GD 7 to the pups’ weaning (postnatal week 4), and all pups were fed with the same diet that was given to their dams during the entire examination period. The open-field test and the water E-maze test were conducted for all pups, and a spontaneous motor activity test and the Sidman electric shock avoidance test were performed for some of male pups. Amounts of monoamine metabolites in striatum were then determined, and fatty acid analyses of total brain lipids were performed.
The male pups in the ET/n-6 group showed significandy more rearing and square-crossing movements in the open-field test, and significandy higher spontaneous motor activity during the dark period in the daily cycle compared to the males in the TW/n-6 group. The male pups in the ET/n-3 group showed fewer of these behaviors in the open-field test compared to the ET/n-6 group males, and a normal pattern of spontaneous motor activity.
Learning disturbance induced byin utero EtOH exposure was not observed in the E-shaped water maze, but was observed in the avoidance rates in the Sidman electric shock avoidance test. However, there was no significant modifying effect of DHA on the avoidance rates in EtOH exposed pups.
The analysis of the fatty acid composition of total lipids in the brains of the pups revealed high levels of DHA in the diet reflected an increased level of brain DHA and caused a decreased level of the brain arachidonic acid. Retroco nversion from DHA to eicosapentaenoic acid was also observed. However, there was no significant effect of DHA on the levels of monoamine metabolites.
These results support the hypothesis that DHA can counteract the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
PMCID: PMC2723580  PMID: 21432193
fetal alcohol effect; docosahexaenoic acid; learning behavior; hyperactive behavior; monoamine metabolites
Physiology & behavior  2010;101(1):176-183.
Insufficient availability of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) during pre- and neonatal development decreases accretion of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) in the developing brain. Low tissue levels of DHA are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In this study, 1st-and 2nd-litter male Long-Evans rats were raised from conception on a Control diet containing α-linolenic acid (4.20 g/kg diet), the dietarily essential fatty acid precursor of DHA, or a diet Deficient in α-linolenic acid (0.38 g/kg diet). The Deficient diet resulted in a decrease in brain phospholipid DHA of 48% in 1st-litter pups and 65% in 2nd-litter pups. Activity, habituation, and response to spatial change in a familiar environment were assessed in a single-session behavioral paradigm at postnatal days 28 and 70, inclusive. Activity and habituation varied by age with younger rats exhibiting higher activity, less habituation, and less stimulation of activity induced by spatial novelty. During the first and second exposures to the test chamber, 2nd-litter Deficient pups exhibited higher levels of activity than Control rats or 1st-litter Deficient pups and less habituation during the first exposure, but were not more active after introduction of a novel spatial stimulus. The higher level of activity in a familiar environment, but not after introduction of a novel stimulus is consistent with clinical observations in ADHD. The observation of this effect only in 2nd-litter rats fed the Deficient diet suggests that brain DHA content, rather than dietary n-3 PUFA content, likely underlies these effects.
PMCID: PMC2923479  PMID: 20457171
polyunsaturated fatty acid; omega-3; docosahexaenoic acid; rat; brain; locomotor activity; novelty; habituation; force-plate actometer
12.  Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation Alters Key Properties of Cardiac Mitochondria and Modestly Attenuates Development of Left Ventricular Dysfunction in Pressure Overload-Induced Heart Failure 
Supplementation with the n3 polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is beneficial in heart failure patients, however the mechanisms are unclear. DHA is incorporated into membrane phospholipids, which may prevent mitochondrial dysfunction. Thus we assessed the effects of DHA supplementation on cardiac mitochondria and the development of heart failure caused by aortic pressure overload.
Pathological cardiac hypertrophy was generated in rats by thoracic aortic constriction. Animals were fed either a standard diet or were supplemented with DHA (2.3 % of energy intake).
After 14 weeks, heart failure was evident by left ventricular hypertrophy and chamber enlargement compared to shams. Left ventricle fractional shortening was unaffected by DHA treatment in sham animals (44.1±1.6 % vs. 43.5±2.2 % for standard diet and DHA, respectively), and decreased with heart failure in both treatment groups, but to a lesser extent in DHA treated animals (34.9±1.7 %) than with the standard diet (29.7±1.5 %, P <0.03). DHA supplementation increased DHA content in mitochondrial phospholipids and decreased membrane viscosity. Myocardial mitochondrial oxidative capacity was decreased by heart failure and unaffected by DHA. DHA treatment enhanced Ca2+ uptake by subsarcolemmal mitochondria in both sham and heart failure groups. Further, DHA lessened Ca2+-induced mitochondria swelling, an index of permeability transition, in heart failure animals. Heart failure increased hydrogen peroxide-induced mitochondrial permeability transition compared to sham, which was partially attenuated in interfibrillar mitochondria by treatment with DHA.
DHA decreased mitochondrial membrane viscosity and accelerated Ca2+ uptake, and attenuated susceptibility to mitochondrial permeability transition and development of left ventricular dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC4364545  PMID: 24013804
Cardiac failure; Metabolism; Polyunsaturated fatty acids; Reactive oxygen species
13.  N-3 (Omega-3) Fatty Acids in Postpartum Depression: Implications for Prevention and Treatment 
A growing body of clinical and epidemiological evidence suggests that low dietary intake and/or tissue levels of n-3 (omega-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are associated with postpartum depression. Low tissue levels of n-3 PUFAs, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are reported in patients with either postpartum or nonpuerperal depression. Moreover, the physiological demands of pregnancy and lactation put childbearing women at particular risk of experiencing a loss of DHA from tissues including the brain, especially in individuals with inadequate dietary n-3 PUFA intake or suboptimal metabolic capabilities. Animal studies indicate that decreased brain DHA in postpartum females leads to several depression-associated neurobiological changes including decreased hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor and augmented hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress. Taken together, these findings support a role for decreased brain n-3 PUFAs in the multifactorial etiology of depression, particularly postpartum depression. These findings, and their implications for research and clinical practice, are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2989696  PMID: 21151517
Journal of Neurochemistry  2012;120(6):985-997.
Dietary n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) deprivation in rodents reduces brain arachidonic acid (20:4n-6) concentration and 20:4n-6-preferring cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2-IVA) and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 expression, while increasing brain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) concentration and DHA-selective Ca2+-independent iPLA2-VIA expression. We hypothesized that these changes are accompanied by upregulated brain DHA metabolic rates. Using a fatty acid model, brain DHA concentrations and kinetics were measured in unanesthetized male rats fed, for 15 weeks post-weaning, an n-6 PUFA “adequate” (31.4 wt% linoleic acid) or “deficient” (2.7 wt% linoleic acid) diet, each lacking 20:4n-6 and DHA. [1-14C]DHA was infused intravenously, arterial blood was sampled, and the brain was microwaved at 5 min and analyzed. Rats fed the n-6 PUFA deficient compared with adequate diet had significantly reduced n-6 PUFA concentrations in brain phospholipids but increased eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3), docosapentaenoic acidn-3 (DPAn-3, 22:5n-3) and DHA (by 9.4%) concentrations, particularly in ethanolamine glycerophospholipid. Incorporation rates of unesterified DHA from plasma, which represent DHA metabolic loss from brain, were increased 45% in brain phospholipids, as was DHA turnover. Increased DHA metabolism following dietary n-6 PUFA deprivation may increase brain concentrations of antiinflammatory DHA metabolites, which with a reduced brain n-6 PUFA content, likely promote neuroprotection. (199 words)
PMCID: PMC3296886  PMID: 22117540
linoleic acid; arachidonic PUFA; diet; turnover; metabolism; docosahexaenoic; kinetics; brain; alpha-linolenic; rat
15.  The Salutary Effects of DHA Dietary Supplementation on Cognition, Neuroplasticity, and Membrane Homeostasis after Brain Trauma 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2011;28(10):2113-2122.
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.
PMCID: PMC3191367  PMID: 21851229
brain-derived neurotrophic factor; plasticity; Sir2; superoxide dismutase; traumatic brain injury
16.  Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Incorporation into the Brain from Plasma, as an In Vivo Biomarker of Brain DHA Metabolism and Neurotransmission 
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is critical for maintaining normal brain structure and function, and is considered neuroprotective. Its brain concentration depends on dietary DHA content and hepatic conversion from its dietary derived n-3 precursor, α-linolenic acid (α-LNA). We have developed an in vivo method in rats using quantitative autoradiography and intravenously injected radiolabeled DHA to image net incorporation into the brain of unesterified plasma DHA, and showed with this method that the incorporation rate of DHA equals the rate of brain metabolic DHA consumption. The method has been extended for use in humans with positron emission tomography (PET). Furthermore, imaging in unanesthetized rats using DHA incorporation as a biomarker in response to acute N-methyl-D-aspartate administration confirms that regional DHA signaling is independent of extracellular calcium, and likely mediated by a calcium-independent phospholipase A2 (iPLA2). Studies in mice in which iPLA2-VIA (β) was knocked out confirmed that this enzyme is critical for baseline and muscarinic cholinergic signaling involving DHA. Thus, quantitative imaging of DHA incorporation from plasma into brain can be used as an in vivo biomarker of brain DHA metabolism and neurotransmission.
PMCID: PMC3202024  PMID: 21704722
docosahexaenoic acid; PLA2; biomarker; imaging; calcium; PET
17.  Modification of Docosahexaenoic Acid Composition of Milk from Nursing Women Who Received Alpha Linolenic Acid from Chia Oil during Gestation and Nursing 
Nutrients  2015;7(8):6405-6424.
α-Linolenic acid (ALA) is the precursor of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in humans, which is fundamental for brain and visual function. Western diet provides low ALA and DHA, which is reflected in low DHA in maternal milk. Chia oil extracted from chia (Salvia hispanica L.), a plant native to some Latin American countries, is high in ALA (up to 60%) and thereby is an alternative to provide ALA with the aim to reduce DHA deficits. We evaluated the modification of the fatty acid profile of milk obtained from Chilean mothers who received chia oil during gestation and nursing. Forty healthy pregnant women (22–35 years old) tabulated for food consumption, were randomly separated into two groups: a control group with normal feeding (n = 21) and a chia group (n = 19), which received 16 mL chia oil daily from the third trimester of pregnancy until the first six months of nursing. The fatty acid profile of erythrocyte phospholipids, measured at six months of pregnancy, at time of delivery and at six months of nursing, and the fatty acid profile of the milk collected during the first six months of nursing were assessed by gas-chromatography. The chia group, compared to the control group, showed (i) a significant increase in ALA ingestion and a significant reduction of linoleic acid (LA) ingestion, no showing modification of arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA; (ii) a significant increase of erythrocyte ALA and EPA and a reduction of LA. AA and DHA were not modified; (iii) a increased milk content of ALA during the six months of nursing, whereas LA showed a decrease. AA and EPA were not modified, however DHA increased only during the first three months of nursing. Consumption of chia oil during the last trimester of pregnancy and the first three months of nursing transiently increases the milk content of DHA.
PMCID: PMC4555128  PMID: 26247968
pregnancy and nursing; chia oil; erythrocyte phospholipids; ALA and DHA in milk
18.  Determinants of DHA incorporation into tumor tissue during dietary DHA supplementation 
Lipids  2011;46(11):1063-1069.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), upon incorporation into tumor tissue, has the potential to sensitize tumors to the effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Although DHA has usually been supplied to tumor tissue in the diet, appropriate dietary conditions required to obtain optimal tumor levels have not been established. Hence, we studied mammary tumor tissue responses in rats fed various durations and doses of DHA. Rats fed a palm-oil enriched diet (diet 0) were switched to diets providing either 0.8 g DHA/d (diet 1) or 1.5 g DHA/d (diet 2). Tumor tissue fatty acid composition was analysed at baseline (diet 0), at weeks 1, 4 and 9 during diet 1 and at week 4 during diet 2. Dietary DHA supplementation differentially increased DHA within phospholipids (PL) and triacylglycerol (TAG) fractions in tumors. DHA level equilibrated between 2 and 4 weeks in PL while DHA increase was more progressive in TAG and did not reach a steady state. A higher dose of DHA further increased DHA content in tumor PL and TAG (P = 0.018 and P < 0.001 respectively). DHA concentration in plasma PL was positively correlated with DHA in tumor PL (r = 0.72; P = 0.0003) and TAG (r = 0.64; P = 0.003). We conclude that dietary DHA supplementation enhances tumor content of DHA in a time- and dose-dependent manner, and that DHA level in plasma PL could be used as a proxy for tumor DHA. These findings have implications for dietary DHA supplementations in cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3563367  PMID: 21638063
Animals; Carcinoma; chemically induced; metabolism; Dietary Fats; metabolism; Dietary Supplements; Docosahexaenoic Acids; blood; metabolism; Fatty Acids; metabolism; Female; Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental; chemically induced; metabolism; Methylnitrosourea; Phospholipids; metabolism; Rats; Rats, Sprague-Dawley; Tissue Distribution; Triglycerides; metabolism; DHA incorporation; dietary DHA supplementation; mammary tumors; tumor phospholipids; tumor triacylglycerol; plasma phospholipids
19.  Reduced acute neuroinflammation and improved functional recovery after traumatic brain injury by α-linolenic acid supplementation in mice 
Adequate consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) is vital for normal development and functioning of the central nervous system. The long-chain n-3 PUFAs docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid are anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective in the models of central nervous system injury including traumatic brain injury (TBI). In the present study, we tested whether a higher brain DHA status in a mouse model on an adequate dietary α-linolenic acid (ALA) leads to reduced neuroinflammation and improved spontaneous recovery after TBI in comparison to a moderately lowered brain DHA status that can occur in humans.
Mice reared on diets with differing ALA content were injured by a single cortical contusion impact. Change in the expression of inflammatory cytokines was measured, and cellular changes occurring after injury were analyzed by immunostaining for macrophage/microglia and astrocytes. Behavioral studies included rotarod and beam walk tests and contextual fear conditioning.
Marginal supply (0.04 %) of ALA as the sole dietary source of n-3 PUFA from early gestation produced reduction of brain DHA by 35 % in adult offspring mice in comparison to the mice on adequate ALA diet (3.1 %). The DHA-depleted group showed significantly increased TBI-induced expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 in the brain as well as slower functional recovery from motor deficits compared to the adequate ALA group. Despite the reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokine expression, adequate ALA diet did not significantly alter either microglia/macrophage density around the contusion site or the relative M1/M2 phenotype. However, the glial fibrillary acidic protein immunoreactivity was reduced in the injured cerebral cortex of the mice on adequate ALA diet, indicating that astrocyte activation may have contributed to the observed differences in cellular and behavioral responses to TBI.
Increasing the brain DHA level even from a moderately DHA-depleted state can reduce neuroinflammation and improve functional recovery after TBI, suggesting possible improvement of functional outcome by increasing dietary n-3 PUFA in human TBI.
PMCID: PMC5035510  PMID: 27663791
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA); Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); Traumatic brain injury (TBI); Inflammation; Diet; Nutrition
20.  Dietary DHA supplementation causes selective changes in phospholipids from different brain regions in both wild type mice and the Tg2576 mouse model of Alzheimer's disease 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2016;1861(6):524-537.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is of major concern in ageing populations and we have used the Tg2576 mouse model to understand connections between brain lipids and amyloid pathology. Because dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has been identified as beneficial, we compared mice fed with a DHA-supplemented diet to those on a nutritionally-sufficient diet.
Major phospholipids from cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum were separated and analysed. Each phosphoglyceride had a characteristic fatty acid composition which was similar in cortex and hippocampus but different in the cerebellum. The biggest changes on DHA-supplementation were within ethanolamine phospholipids which, together with phosphatidylserine, had the highest proportions of DHA. Reciprocal alterations in DHA and arachidonate were found. The main diet-induced alterations were found in ethanolamine phospholipids, (and included their ether derivatives), as were the changes observed due to genotype. Tg mice appeared more sensitive to diet with generally lower DHA percentages when on the standard diet and higher relative proportions of DHA when the diet was supplemented. All four major phosphoglycerides analysed showed age-dependent decreases in polyunsaturated fatty acid contents.
These data provide, for the first time, a detailed evaluation of phospholipids in different brain areas previously shown to be relevant to behaviour in the Tg2576 mouse model for AD. The lipid changes observed with genotype are consistent with the subtle alterations found in AD patients, especially for the ethanolamine phospholipid molecular species. They also emphasise the contrasting changes in fatty acid content induced by DHA supplementation within individual phospholipid classes.
•The effects of dietary DHA on brain phospholipids were studied in normal and Tg2576 mice.•Different lipids were affected variously by diet with PE being the most altered.•Dietary DHA reduced brain arachidonate in PE, PC, PS and even in PI that contained little DHA.•Genotype changes were mainly found in ethanolamine phosphoglycerides.•The genotype data are consistent with results reported for Alzheimer's patients.
PMCID: PMC4847476  PMID: 26968097
Alzheimer's disease; 2576 mouse model; Phospholipid lipidomics; DHA-enriched diet; Brain areas
21.  Maternal long-chain PUFA supplementation during protein deficiency improves brain fatty acid accretion in rat pups by altering the milk fatty acid composition of the dam 
Long-chain PUFA (LC-PUFA) are important for fetal and neonatal brain development. However, their accretion in the brain is compromised during maternal protein restriction. Hence, we investigated the effect of maternal supplementation with n-3 DHA plus n-6 arachidonic acid (ARA) at a low protein level (9 %) on offspring brain fatty acid accretion using Wistar rats (nine rats per group) randomly fed a control (C), a low-protein (LP) or a low-protein DHA + ARA-supplemented (LPS) diet during gestation and lactation. At birth, pups from the LPS group had the highest brain DHA and n-3 fatty acid levels (P = 0·001), whereas pups from the LP group had the highest MUFA (P = 0·05) but the lowest DHA and total n-3 PUFA levels (P = 0·000). During lactation, pups from the LPS group accrued significantly more α-linolenic acid (P = 0·003), EPA (P = 0·02) and DHA (P = 0·000) in brain lipids than pups from the LP group, whereas brain lipids of pups from the LP group had markedly increased levels of the n-3 deficiency marker docosapentaenoic acid and n-6:n-3 ratio (P = 0·000). Owing to supplementation, milk from LPS dams had the highest DHA and ARA, but lower SCFA and medium-chain fatty acids as compared with milk from C and LP dams during early lactation, but normalised by mid-lactation. To conclude, adverse effects of restricted maternal protein intake on LC-PUFA accretion in the brain of offspring were ameliorated by alterations in maternal milk fatty acid profile due to supplementation. Results underscore the importance of LC-PUFA for protein-deficient mothers during gestation as well as lactation to achieve the optimum brain LC-PUFA status of progeny.
PMCID: PMC4153033  PMID: 25191591
Long-chain PUFA; Maternal supplementation; Protein restriction; Brain lipids; Milk lipid composition; ALA, α-linolenic acid; ARA, arachidonic acid; LA, linoleic acid; LC-PUFA, long-chain PUFA; LP, low protein; LPS, low protein DHA + ARA supplemented
22.  RETRACTED ARTICLE: Aging decreases rate of docosahexaenoic acid synthesis-secretion from circulating unesterified α-linolenic acid by rat liver 
Age  2012;35(3):597-608.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3), an n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) found at high concentrations in brain and retina and critical to their function, can be obtained from fish products or be synthesized from circulating α-linolenic acid (α-LNA, 18:3n-3) mainly in the liver. With aging, liver synthetic enzymes are reported reduced or unchanged in the rat. To test whether liver synthesis-secretion of DHA from α-LNA changes with age, we measured whole-body DHA conversion coefficients and rates in unanesthetized adult male Fischer-344 rats aged 10, 20, or 30 months, fed an eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3)- and DHA-containing diet. Unesterified [U- 13 C]α-LNA bound to albumin was infused intravenously for 2 h, while [13 C]-esterified n-3 PUFAs were measured in arterial plasma, as were unlabeled unesterified and esterified PUFA concentrations. Plasma unesterified n-3 PUFA concentrations declined with age, but esterified n-3 PUFA concentrations did not change significantly. Calculated conversion coefficients were not changed significantly with age, whereas synthesis-secretion rates (product of conversion coefficient and unesterified plasma α-LNA concentration) of esterified DHA and n-3 DPA were reduced. Turnovers of esterified n-3 PUFAs in plasma decreased with age, whereas half-lives increased. The results suggest that hepatic capacity to synthesize DHA and other n-3 PUFAs from circulating α-LNA is maintained with age in the rat, but that reduced plasma α-LNA availability reduces net synthesis-secretion. As unesterified plasma DHA is the form that is incorporated preferentially into brain phospholipid, its reduced synthesis may be deleterious to brain function in aged rats.
PMCID: PMC3636395  PMID: 22388930
Liver; Synthesis-secretion rate; Conversion; Aging; Age; Metabolism; Alpha-linolenic acid; n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs); Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); Lipid
23.  Deficit in Prepulse Inhibition in Mice Caused by Dietary n-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency 
Behavioral neuroscience  2009;123(6):1218-1225.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) may be biosynthesized from a precursor α-linolenic acid (LNA) or obtained preformed in the diet. Dams were fed four diets with different levels of the various n-3 fatty acids during pregnancy and lactation, and their offspring were weaned to the same diets: “n-3 Deficient”, containing (as % total fatty acids) 0.07% of LNA; “Low LNA” (0.4%); “High LNA” (4.8%); and a “DHA+EPA” diet, containing 0.4% of LNA, 2% DHA and 2% EPA. Sensorimotor gating was measured by prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle response in C57Bl6 mice. The n-3 Deficient and Low LNA diets caused a substantial deficit in PPI compared to the DHA+EPA diet, whereas the High LNA diet induced a less pronounced, but significant reduction of PPI. These are the first data that demonstrate a deficit in sensorimotor gating in rodents caused by an inadequate amount of the n-3 fatty acids in the diet. Our results differentiate the effects of a High LNA diet from one with added EPA and DHA even though the difference in brain DHA content is only 12% between these dietary groups.
PMCID: PMC2852869  PMID: 20001105
prepulse inhibition; PPI; DHA; n-3 fatty acid deficiency
24.  A cross-sectional study of docosahexaenoic acid status and cognitive outcomes in females of reproductive age with phenylketonuria 
Diet therapy for phenylketonuria (PKU) requires restricted phenylalanine (Phe) intake, with the majority of protein and other nutrients coming from synthetic medical food. The fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is important in brain development and function; however, there are reports of low blood DHA concentrations in people treated for PKU. Although the implications of this low blood DHA are unclear, subtle cognitive deficits have been reported in those treated early and continuously for PKU. For this study, we investigated the relationship between DHA status and cognitive performance in 41 females 12 years and older with PKU. Participants were attending the baseline visit of a research-based camp or a supplementation trial. We assessed the domains of verbal ability, processing speed, and executive function using standardized tests, and the proportions of DHA in plasma and red blood cell (RBC) total lipids using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Percent plasma and RBC total lipid DHA were significantly lower in the participants compared with laboratory controls (P < .001), and participants consumed no appreciable DHA according to diet records. Plasma and RBC DHA both negatively correlated with plasma Phe (P < .02), and performance on the verbal ability task positively correlated with RBC DHA controlling for plasma Phe (R=.32, P=.03). The relationship between DHA and domains related to verbal ability, such as learning and memory, should be confirmed in a controlled trial. Domains of processing speed and executive function may require a larger sample size to clarify any association with DHA.
PMCID: PMC4227302  PMID: 21305356
25.  Docosahexaenoic acid ameliorates aluminum induced biochemical and morphological alteration in rat cerebellum 
Annals of Neurosciences  2014;21(1):5-9.
The omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have well-characterized effects on inflammation and oxidative stress and may have neuroprotective effects in a number of neurodegenerative conditions including AD. Brain tissue contains large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are particularly vulnerable to free radical injury.
The present study attempts to examine protective effects of docosahexaenoic acid (100 mg/kg body weight) and on aluminum (100 mg/kg b. wt. of AlCl3) mediated oxidative damage in the cerebellum in male albino rats along with the motor and learning ability and morphological changes.
Twenty four male Rattusnorigious, Wistar strain rats (weight 220 ± 10 grams) were randomly divided into four groups (n = 12) viz. Group 1 served as control treated with normal saline, Group 2 treated with 100mg/kg body weight of DHA, Group three treated with 100 mg/kg body weight of AlCl3 and Group four treated with 100mg AlCl3 + 100 mg DHA for 90 days. Dose was directly introduced into the rat pharynx via a feeding cannula to rats for 90 days. Behavioral tests followed by biochemical analysis was performed.
A significant decrease in the antioxidant status (superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione) and increased lipid peroxide levels and protein carbonyl content in aluminum exposed rats was noted. After DHA supplementation these effects were reversed. Moreover, DHA also significantly (p<0.05) prevented aluminum induced dysfunctioning of the motor and learning ability. The light microscopic studies revealed altered Purkinje’s neurons and granular layer. These changes were not seen in the DHA treated rats.
On the basis of our results it may be concluded that Al may be linked with cerebellar degeneration and neuromuscular disorders while DHA helps to prevent these alterations.
PMCID: PMC4117144  PMID: 25206046
Aluminum; Docosahexaenoic acid; Cerebellum; behavioral study

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