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), 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
Docosahexaenoylethanolamide, the structural analog of the endogenous cannabinoid receptor ligand anandamide, is synthesized from docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the brain. Although docosahexaenoylethanolamide binds weakly to cannabinoid receptors, it stimulates neurite growth, synaptogenesis and glutamatergic synaptic activity in developing hippocampal neurons at concentrations of 10–100 nM. We have previously proposed the term synaptamide for docosahexaenoylethanolamide to emphasize its potent synaptogenic activity and structural similarity to anandamide. Synaptamide is subjected to hydrolysis by fatty acid amide hydrolase, and can be oxygenated to bioactive metabolites. The brain synaptamide content is dependent on the dietary DHA intake, suggesting an endogenous mechanism whereby diets containing adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids improve synaptogenesis in addition to well-recognized anti-inflammatory effects.
Synaptamide; Synaptogenesis; Neuritogenesis; N-docosahexaenoylethanolamine; Docosahexaenoic acid; Omega-3 fatty acid; Fatty acid amide hydrolase; Endocannabinoids; Anandamide
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
Dietary supplementation with (ω)-3 long chain fatty acids including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has increased in popularity in recent years and adequate DHA supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood is of clinical importance. Some evidence has been built for the neuro-cognitive benefits of supplementation with long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) such as DHA during pregnancy; however, recent data indicate that the anti-inflammatory properties may be of at least equal significance. Adequate DHA availability in the fetus/infant optimizes brain and retinal maturation in part by influencing neurotransmitter pathways. The anti-inflammatory properties of LCPUFA are largely mediated through modulation of signaling either directly through binding to receptors or through changes in lipid raft formation and receptor presentation. Our goal is to review the current findings on DHA supplementation, specifically in pregnancy and infant neurodevelopment, as a pharmacologic agent with both preventative and therapeutic value. Given the overall benefits of DHA, maternal and infant supplementation may improve neurological outcomes especially in vulernable populations. However, optimal composition of the supplement and dosing and treatment strategies still need to be determined to lend support for routine supplementation.
DHA; long chain fatty acids; natural products; lipids; omega-3
Epidermal fatty acid-binding protein (E-FABP), a member of the family of FABPs, exhibits a robust expression in neurons during axonal growth in development and in nerve regeneration following nerve injury. This study examines the impact of E-FABP expression in normal neurite extension in differentiating pheochromocytoma cell (PC12) cultures supplemented with selected long chain free fatty acids (LCFFA). We found that E-FABP binds to a broad range of saturated and unsaturated LCFFAs, including those with potential interest for neuronal differentiation and axonal growth such as C22:6n-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), C20:5n-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and C20:4n-6 arachidonic acid (ARA). PC12 cells exposed to nerve growth factor (NGFDPC12) exhibit high E-FABP expression that is blocked by mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibitor U0126. Nerve growth factor-differentiated pheochromocytoma cells (NGFDPC12) antisense clones (NGFDPC12-AS) which exhibit low E-FABP expression have fewer/shorter neurites than cells transfected with vector only or NGFDPC12 sense cells (NGFDPC12-S). Replenishing NGFDPC12-AS cells with biotinylated recombinant E-FABP (biotin-E-FABP) protein restores normal neurite outgrowth. Cellular localization of biotin-E-FABP in NGFDPC12 was detected mostly in the cytoplasm and in the nuclear region. Treatment of NGFDPC12 with DHA, EPA, or ARA further enhances neurite length but it does not trigger further induction of TrkA or MEK phosphorylation or E-FABP mRNA observed in differentiating PC12 cells without LCFFA supplementation. Significantly, DHA and EPA neurite stimulating effects are higher in NGFDPC12-S than in NGFDPC12-AS cells. These findings are consistent with the scenario that neurite extension of differentiating PC12 cells, including further stimulation by DHA and EPA, requires sufficient cellular levels of E-FABP.
C20:5n-3 eicosapentaenoic acid; C22:6n-3 docosahexaenoic acid; epidermal fatty acid-binding protein; fatty acid binding; n-3/n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids; neuronal differentiation
Dietary omega-3 fatty acid (i.e. docosohexaenoic acid (DHA)) and exercise are gaining recognition for supporting brain function under normal and challenging conditions. Here we evaluate the possibility that the interaction of DHA and exercise can involve specific elements of the synaptic plasma membrane. We found that voluntary exercise potentiated the effects of a 12-day DHA dietary supplementation regimen on increasing the levels of syntaxin 3 (STX-3) and the growth-associated protein (GAP-43) in the adult rat hippocampus region. STX-3 is a synaptic membrane-bound protein involved in the effects of DHA on membrane expansion. The DHA diet and exercise also elevated levels of the NMDA receptor subunit NR2B, which is important for synaptic function underlying learning and memory. The actions of exercise and DHA dietary supplementation reflected on enhanced learning performance in the Morris water maze as learning ability was associated with higher levels of STX-3 and NR2B. The overall findings reveal a mechanism by which exercise can interact with the function of DHA dietary enrichment to elevate the capacity of the adult brain for axonal growth, synaptic plasticity, and cognitive function.
Omega-3 fatty acid; Voluntary exercise; Syntaxin; Synaptic membrane; Hippocampus
Administering uridine-5’-monophosphate (UMP) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) increases synaptic membranes (as characterized by pre-and post-synaptic proteins) and dendritic spines in rodents. We examined their effects on rotational behavior and dopaminergic markers in rats with partial unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-induced striatal lesions. Rats receiving UMP, DHA, both, or neither, daily, and intrastriatal 6-OHDA 3 days after treatment onset, were tested for d-amphetamine-induced rotational behavior and dopaminergic markers after 24 and 28 days, respectively. UMP/DHA treatment reduced ipsilateral rotations by 57% and significantly elevated striatal dopamine, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) activity, TH protein and Synapsin-1 on the lesioned side. Hence, giving uridine and DHA may partially restore dopaminergic neurotransmission in this model of Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s Disease; Uridine; Docosahexaenoic Acid; Dopamine; Tyrosine Hydroxylase Activity; Synapse
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for proper development and function of the brain where docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the primary omega-3 fatty acid in the brain, is retained avidly by the neuronal membranes. We investigated the effect of DHA depletion in the brain on the outcome of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Pregnant mice were put on an omega-3 fatty acid adequate or deficient diet from gestation day 14 and the pups were raised on the respective diets. Continuation of this dietary regime for three generations resulted in approximately 70% loss of DHA in the brain. Controlled cortical impact was delivered to both groups of mice to produce severe TBI and the functional recovery was compared. Compared to the omega-3 adequate mice, the DHA depleted mice exhibited significantly slower recovery from motor deficits evaluated by the rotarod and the beam walk tests. Furthermore, the DHA deficient mice showed greater anxiety-like behavior tested in the open field test as well as cognitive deficits evaluated by the novel object recognition test. The level of alpha spectrin II breakdown products, the markers of TBI, was significantly elevated in the deficient mouse cortices, indicating that the injury is greater in the deficient brains. This observation was further supported by the reduction of NeuN positive cells around the site of injury in the deficient mice, indicating exacerbated neuronal death after injury. These results suggest an important influence of the brain DHA status on TBI outcome.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) are major components of the cerebral cortex and visual system, where they play a critical role in neural development. We quantitatively mapped fatty acids in 26 regions of the four-week-old breastfed baboon CNS, and studied the influence of dietary DHA and ARA supplementation and prematurity on CNS DHA and ARA concentrations.
Baboons were randomized into a breastfed (B) and four formula-fed groups: term, no DHA/ARA (T-); term, DHA/ARA supplemented (T+); preterm, no DHA/ARA (P-); preterm and DHA/ARA supplemented (P+). At four weeks adjusted age, brains were dissected and total fatty acids analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.
DHA and ARA are rich in many more structures than previously reported. They are most concentrated in structures local to the brain stem and diencephalon, particularly the basal ganglia, limbic regions, thalamus and midbrain, and comparatively lower in white matter. Dietary supplementation increased DHA in all structures but had little influence on ARA concentrations. Supplementation restored DHA concentrations to levels of breastfed neonates in all regions except the cerebral cortex and cerebellum. Prematurity per se did not exert a strong influence on DHA or ARA concentrations.
1) DHA and ARA are found in high concentration throughout the primate CNS, particularly in gray matter such as basal ganglia; 2) DHA concentrations drop across most CNS structures in neonates consuming formulas with no DHA, but ARA levels are relatively immune to ARA in the diet; 3) supplementation of infant formula is effective at restoring DHA concentration in structures other than the cerebral cortex. These results will be useful as a guide to future investigations of CNS function in the absence of dietary DHA and ARA.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), especially n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are known to protect against inflammation-induced bone loss in chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, periodontitis and osteoporosis. We previously reported that DHA, not EPA, inhibited osteoclastogenesis induced by the receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (sRANKL) in vitro. In this study, we performed gene expression analysis using microarrays to identify genes affected by the DHA treatment during osteoclastogenesis. DHA strongly inhibited osteoclastogenesis at the late stage. Among the genes upregulated by the sRANKL treatment, 4779 genes were downregulated by DHA and upregulated by the EPA treatment. Gene ontology analysis identified sets of genes related to cell motility, cell adhesion, cell-cell signaling and cell morphogenesis. Quantitative PCR analysis confirmed that DC-STAMP, an essential gene for the cell fusion process in osteoclastogenesis, and other osteoclast-related genes, such as Siglec-15, Tspan7 and Mst1r, were inhibited by DHA.
polyunsaturated fatty acid; docosahexaenoic acid; osteoclast
We have previously demonstrated that DHA at low micromolar concentrations has a remarkable effect on morphological differentiation of hippocampal neurons by increasing the population of neurons with more branches and longer neurites. In this study, possible involvement of the retinoid X receptor (RXR) in the DHA-induced hippocampal neurite outgrowth was evaluated as DHA is an endogenous ligand for RXR. Immunocytochemical examination revealed that all RXR isoforms, RXR-alpha, -beta 1, -beta 2 and -gamma, are expressed exclusively in neurons with distinctive intracellular distribution. The cell-based dual luciferase reporter assay indicated that DHA activates RXRα at or above 10 μM but not at 1.5 μM where DHA induces neurite outgrowth. Arachidonic acid also activated RXRα in a similar concentration range but with lower efficacy. Our results suggest that DHA-induced neurite outgrowth may not be mediated by direct activation of RXRα, although involvement of other isoforms or DHA metabolites can not be excluded.
RXR; docosahexaenoic acid; arachidonic acid; hippocampal; neuronal cells
We reported that reduced dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) such as arachidonic (AA,20:4n6, omega-6) and docosahexaenoic (DHA,22:6n3, omega-3) acids led to alcohol-induced fatty liver and fibrosis. This study was aimed at studying the mechanisms by which a DHA/AA-supplemented diet prevents alcohol-induced fatty liver.
Male Long-Evans rats were fed an ethanol or control liquid-diet with or without DHA/AA for 9 weeks. Plasma transaminase levels, liver histology, oxidative/nitrosative stress markers, and activities of oxidatively-modified mitochondrial proteins were evaluated.
Chronic alcohol administration increased the degree of fatty liver but fatty liver decreased significantly in rats fed the alcohol-DHA/AA-supplemented diet. Alcohol exposure increased oxidative/nitrosative stress with elevated levels of ethanol-inducible CYP2E1, nitric oxide synthase, nitrite and mitochondrial hydrogen peroxide. However, these increments were normalized in rats fed the alcohol-DHA/AA-supplemented diet. The number of oxidatively-modified mitochondrial proteins was markedly increased following alcohol exposure but significantly reduced in rats fed the alcohol-DHA/AA-supplemented diet. The suppressed activities of mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase, ATP synthase, and 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase in ethanol-exposed rats were also recovered in animals fed the ethanol-DHA/AA-supplemented diet.
Addition of DHA/AA prevents alcohol-induced fatty liver and mitochondrial dysfunction in an animal model by protecting various mitochondrial enzymes most likely through reducing oxidative/nitrosative stress.
Alcoholic fatty liver; polyunsaturated fatty acids; Long-Evans rat; Oxidative/nitrosative stress; Protein oxidation; β-oxidation of fatty acids; Mitochondrial dysfunction
Resolvins, including D and E series resolvins, are endogenous lipid mediators generated during the resolution phase of acute inflammation from the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Resolvins are known to have potent anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution actions in several animal models of inflammation. Recent findings also demonstrate that resolvin E1 and resolvin D1 can each potently dampen inflammatory and postoperative pain. This review focuses on the mechanisms by which resolvins act on their receptors in immune cells and neurons to normalize exaggerated pain, via regulating inflammatory mediators, transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels, and spinal cord synaptic transmission. Resolvins may offer novel therapeutic approaches for preventing and treating pain conditions associated with inflammation.
α-synuclein (α-Syn) is a neuronal protein that accumulates progressively in Parkinson’s disease and related synucleinopathies. Attempting to identify cellular factors that affect α-Syn neuropathology, we previously reported that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) promote α-Syn oligomerization and aggregation in cultured cells. We now report that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) a 22:6 PUFA affects α-Syn oligomerization by activating retinoic X receptor (RXR) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ2 (PPARγ2). In addition, we show that dietary changes in brain DHA levels affect α-Syn cytopathology in mice transgenic for the Parkinson’s disease-causing A53T mutation in human α-Syn. A diet enriched in docosahexaenoic acid, an activating ligand of RXR, increased the accumulation of soluble and insoluble neuronal α-Syn, neuritic injury and astrocytosis. Conversely, abnormal accumulations of α-Syn and its deleterious effects were significantly attenuated by low dietary docosahexaenoic acid levels. Our results suggest a role for activated RXR/PPARγ 2, obtained by elevated brain polyunsaturated fatty acids levels, in α-Syn neuropathology.
alpha synuclein; Parkinson’s disease; peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR)γ; Retinoic X receptor (RXR); protein oligomerization and aggregation; docosahexaenoic acid
Although cognitive performance in humans and experimental animals can be improved by administering the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the neurochemical mechanisms underlying this effect remain uncertain. In general, nutrients or drugs that modify brain function or behavior do so by affecting synaptic transmission, usually by changing the quantities of particular neurotransmitters present within synaptic clefts or by acting directly on neurotransmitter receptors or signal-transduction molecules. We find that DHA also affects synaptic transmission in mammalian brain: Brain cells of gerbils or rats receiving this fatty acid manifest increased levels of phosphatides and of specific pre- or post-synaptic proteins. They also exhibit increased numbers of dendritic spines on postsynaptic neurons. These actions are markedly enhanced in animals that have also received the other two circulating precursors for phosphatidylcholine – uridine (which gives rise to brain UTP and CTP), and choline (which gives rise to phosphocholine). The actions of DHA are reproduced by eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), another omega-3 compound, but not by the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA). Administration of circulating phosphatide precursors can also increase neurotransmitter release (acetylcholine; dopamine) and affect animal behavior. Conceivably, this treatment might have use in patients with the synaptic loss that characterizes Alzheimer's disease or other neurodegenerative diseases, or occurs after stroke or brain injury.
The anti-atherogenic effects of omega 3 fatty acids, namely eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA) are well recognized but the impact of dietary intake on bioactive lipid mediator profiles remains unclear. Such a profiling effort may offer novel targets for future studies into the mechanism of action of omega 3 fatty acids. The present study aimed to determine the impact of DHA supplementation on the profiles of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) oxygenated metabolites and to investigate their contribution to atherosclerosis prevention. A special emphasis was given to the non-enzymatic metabolites knowing the high susceptibility of DHA to free radical-mediated peroxidation and the increased oxidative stress associated with plaque formation. Atherosclerosis prone mice (LDLR−/−) received increasing doses of DHA (0, 0.1, 1 or 2% of energy) during 20 weeks leading to a dose-dependent reduction of atherosclerosis (R2 = 0.97, p = 0.02), triglyceridemia (R2 = 0.97, p = 0.01) and cholesterolemia (R2 = 0.96, p<0.01). Targeted lipidomic analyses revealed that both the profiles of EPA and DHA and their corresponding oxygenated metabolites were substantially modulated in plasma and liver. Notably, the hepatic level of F4-neuroprostanes, a specific class of DHA peroxidized metabolites, was strongly correlated with the hepatic DHA level. Moreover, unbiased statistical analysis including correlation analyses, hierarchical cluster and projection to latent structure discriminate analysis revealed that the hepatic level of F4-neuroprostanes was the variable most negatively correlated with the plaque extent (p<0.001) and along with plasma EPA-derived diols was an important mathematical positive predictor of atherosclerosis prevention. Thus, oxygenated n-3 PUFAs, and F4-neuroprostanes in particular, are potential biomarkers of DHA-associated atherosclerosis prevention. While these may contribute to the anti-atherogenic effects of DHA, further in vitro investigations are needed to confirm such a contention and to decipher the molecular mechanisms of action.
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.
Aim: To test the hypothesis that maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation during pregnancy enhances maturation of the visual evoked potential (VEP) in healthy term infants.
Methods: One hundred women were supplemented with either fish oil capsules rich in DHA (n = 50) or placebo capsules (n = 50) from week 15 of pregnancy until delivery. Total fatty acids in red blood cells and plasma were measured at weeks 15, 28, and 40 of pregnancy and at delivery in umbilical cord blood. Infant visual pathway development was assessed using VEPs recorded to flash stimuli shortly after birth and to both flash and pattern-reversal stimuli at 50 and 66 weeks post-conceptional age (PCA).
Results: Maternal supplementation did not significantly elevate the level of DHA in umbilical cord blood. Moreover, there were no significant differences in any of the VEP measures observed between supplementation groups. However, maturity of the pattern-reversal VEP at 50 and 66 weeks PCA was associated with DHA status of the infants at birth. Infants with higher DHA status, both as a concentration and as a percentage of total fatty acids, showed shorter P100 peak latencies of the pattern-reversal VEP than those with lower DHA status.
Conclusions: Maternal DHA supplementation during pregnancy did not enhance VEP maturation in healthy term infants. However, these results show an association between the DHA status of infants at term and early postnatal development of the pattern-reversal VEP, suggesting that DHA status itself may influence maturation of the central visual pathways.