Decreased tissue levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) are implicated in the etiologies of non-puerperal and postpartum depression. With the aim of determining neurobiological sequelae of decreased brain DHA content, this study examined the effects of a loss of brain DHA content and concurrent reproductive status 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 23–26% lower than virgin and parous rats fed a control diet containing adequate α-linolenic acid. Parous dams were tested/euthanized at weaning (postnatal day 20) of the second litter; virgin females, during diestrus. Decreased brain DHA was associated with decreased hippocampal BDNF gene expression and increased relative corticosterone response to an intense stressor, regardless of reproductive status. In virgin females with decreased brain DHA, serotonin content and turnover in frontal cortex were decreased compared to virgin females with normal brain DHA. In parous dams with decreased brain DHA, the density of 5-HT1A receptors in the hippocampus was increased, corticosterone response to an intense stressor was increased, and the latency to immobility in the forced swim test was decreased compared to parous dams with normal DHA. These findings demonstrate neurobiological alterations attributable to decreased brain DHA or an interaction of parous status and brain DHA level. Furthermore, the data are consistent with findings in depressed humans, and thus support a role for DHA as a factor in the etiologies of depressive illnesses, particularly postpartum depression.
omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid; brain-derived neurotrophic factor; serotonin 1A receptor; forced swim; postpartum; corticosterone
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.
polyunsaturated fatty acid; omega-3; docosahexaenoic acid; rat; brain; locomotor activity; novelty; habituation; force-plate actometer
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.
docosahexaenoic acid; liver; brain; rat; n-3; omega-3; PUFA; imaging; metabolism; diet; synthesis; α-linolenic acid
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.
Omega-3 fatty acids; docosahexaenoic acid; alpha-linolenic acid; ovariectomy; estrogen; prefrontal cortex; hippocampus; hypothalamus; midbrain; gender; rat
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
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.
docosahexaenoic acid; PLA2; biomarker; imaging; calcium; PET
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
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.
Omega-3 fatty acid; DHA; EPA; Lipid metabolism; Triglycerides; Ethyl ester; Phospholipids
Epidemiological and clinical trial findings suggest that consumption of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) lowers the risk of Alzhemier’s disease (AD). We examined the effects of short-term (3 months) DHA enriched diet on plaque deposition and synaptic deficts in forebrain of young APPswe/PS1ΔE9 transgenic (tg) and non-transgenic (ntg) mice. Gas chromatography revealed a significant increase in DHA concomitant with a decrease of arachidonic acid in both brain and liver in mice fed with DHA. Female tg mice consumed relatively more food daily than ntg female mice, independent of diet. Plaque load was significantly reduced in the cortex, ventral hippocampus and striatum of female APPswe/PS1ΔE9 tg mice on DHA diet compared to female tg mice on control diet. LR11 levels were unchanged in mice on DHA. Moreover drebrin levels were significantly increased in the hippocampus of tg mice on the DHA diet. Finally, in vitro DHA treatment prevented amyloid toxicity in cell cultures. Our findings support the concept that increased DHA consumption may play and important role in preventing brain insults in AD.
n-3 fatty acids; Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid; transgenics; drebrin
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.
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.
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
Consumption of ω-3 fatty acids from fish oil, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), decreases risk for heart failure and attenuates pathologic cardiac remodeling in response to pressure overload. Dietary supplementation with EPA+DHA may also impact cardiac mitochondrial function and energetics through alteration of membrane phospholipids. We assessed the role of EPA+DHA supplementation on left ventricular (LV) function, cardiac mitochondrial membrane phospholipid composition, respiration, and sensitivity to mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) opening in normal and infarcted myocardium. Rats were subjected to sham surgery or myocardial infarction by coronary artery ligation (n=10–14), and fed a standard diet, or supplemented with EPA+DHA (2.3% of energy intake) for 12 weeks. EPA+DHA altered fatty acid composition of total mitochondrial phospholipids and cardiolipin by reducing arachidonic acid content and increasing DHA incorporation. EPA+DHA significantly increased calcium uptake capacity in both subsarcolemmal and intrafibrillar mitochondria from sham rats. This treatment effect persisted with the addition of cyclosporin A, and was not accompanied by changes in mitochondrial respiration or coupling, or cyclophilin D protein expression. Myocardial infarction resulted in heart failure as evidenced by LV dilation and contractile dysfunction. Infarcted LV myocardium had decreased mitochondrial protein yield and activity of mitochondrial marker enzymes, however respiratory function of isolated mitochondria was normal. EPA+DHA had no effect on LV function, mitochondrial respiration, or MPTP opening in rats with heart failure. In conclusion, dietary supplementation with EPA+DHA altered mitochondrial membrane phospholipid fatty acid composition in normal and infarcted hearts, but delayed MPTP opening only in normal hearts.
eicosapentaenoic acid; docosahexaenoic acid; myocardial infarction; mitochondrial permeability transition pore
B10.RIII and B10.G mice were transferred from a diet of laboratory rodent chow to a standard diet in which all the fat (5% by weight) was supplied as either fish oil (17% eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA], 12% docosahexaenoic acid [DHA], 0% arachidonic acid [AA], and 2% linoleic acid) or corn oil (0% EPA, 0% DHA, 0% AA, and 65% linoleic acid). The fatty acid composition of the macrophage phospholipids from mice on the chow diet was similar to that of mice on a corn oil diet. Mice fed the fish oil diet for only 1 wk showed substantial increases in macrophage phospholipid levels of the omega-3 fatty acids (of total fatty acid 4% was EPA, 10% docosapentaenoic acid [DPA], and 10% DHA), and decreases in omega-6 fatty acids (12% was AA, 2% docosatetraenoic acid [DTA], and 4% linoleic acid) compared to corn oil-fed mice (0% EPA, 0% DPA, 6% DHA, 20% AA, 9% DTA, and 8% linoleic acid). After 5 wk this difference between the fish oil-fed and corn oil-fed mice was even more pronounced. Further small changes occurred at 5-9 wk. We studied the prostaglandin (PG) and thromboxane (TX) profile of macrophages prepared from mice fed the two diets just before being immunized with collagen. Irrespective of diet, macrophages prepared from female mice and incubated for 24 h had significantly more PG and TX in the medium than similarly prepared macrophages from male mice. The increased percentage of EPA and decreased percentage of AA in the phospholipids of the macrophages prepared from the fish oil-fed mice was reflected in a reduction in the amount of PGE2 and PGI2 in the medium relative to identically incubated macrophages prepared from corn oil-fed mice. When this same fish oil diet was fed to B10.RIII mice for 26 d before immunization with type II collagen, the time of onset of arthritis was increased, and the incidence and severity of arthritis was reduced compared to arthritis induced in corn oil-fed mice. The females, especially those on the fish oil diet, tended to have less arthritis than the males. These alterations in the fatty acid pool available for PG and leukotriene synthesis suggest a pivotal role for the macrophage and PG in the immune and/or inflammatory response to type II collagen.
Supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish oil may prevent development of heart failure through alterations in cardiac phospholipids that favorably impact inflammation and energy metabolism. A high-fat diet may block these effects in chronically stressed myocardium. Pathological left ventricle (LV) hypertrophy was generated by subjecting rats to pressure overload by constriction of the abdominal aorta. Animals were fed: (1) standard diet (10% of energy from fat), (2) standard diet with EPA+DHA (2.3% of energy intake as EPA+DHA), (3) high fat (60% fat); or (4) high fat with EPA+DHA. Pressure overload increased LV mass by ≈40% in both standard and high-fat diets without fish oil. Supplementation with fish oil increased their incorporation into cardiac phospholipids, and decreased the proinflammatory fatty acid arachidonic acid and urine thromboxane B2 with both the standard and high-fat diet. Linoleic acid and tetralinoloyl cardiolipin (an essential mitochondrial phospholipid) were decreased with pressure overload on standard diet, which was prevented by fish oil. Animals fed high-fat diet had decreased linoleic acid and tetralinoloyl cardiolipin regardless of fish oil supplemention. Fish oil limited LV hypertrophy on the standard diet, and prevented upregulation of fetal genes associated with heart failure (myosin heavy chain-β and atrial natriuetic factor). These beneficial effects of fish oil were absent in animals on the high-fat diet. In conclusion, whereas treatment with EPA+DHA prevented tetralinoloyl cardiolipin depletion, LV hypertrophy, and abnormal genes expression with pressure overload, these effects were absent with a high-fat diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids; cardiac hypertrophy; heart failure; cardiolipin; phospolipids
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.
alpha-linolenic acid; linoleic acid; docosahexaenoic acid; docosapentaenoic acid; essential fatty acid; stable isotope; GC/MS; metabolism
Dietary requirements for maintaining brain and heart docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) homeostasis are not agreed on, in part because rates of liver DHA synthesis from circulating α-linolenic acid (α-LNA, 18:2n-3) have not been quantified. These rates can be estimated in vivo using intravenous radiotracer- or heavy isotope-labeled α-LNA infusion. In adult unanesthetized male rats, such infusion shows that liver synthesis-secretion rates of DHA from α-LNA markedly exceed brain and heart DHA synthesis rates and brain DHA consumption rate, and that liver but not heart or brain synthesis is upregulated as dietary n-3 PUFA content is reduced. These differences in rate reflect much higher expression of DHA-synthesizing enzymes in liver, and upregulation of liver but not heart or brain enzyme expression by reduced dietary n-3 PUFA content. A noninvasive intravenous [U-13C]α-LNA infusion method that produces steady-state liver tracer metabolism gives exact liver DHA synthesis-secretion rates and could be extended for human studies.
secretion; synthesis; docosahexaenoic acid; α-linolenic acid; kinetics; liver; brain; heart; rat; PUFA; n-3
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
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
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 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.
Deficiency in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is associated with impaired visual and neurological postnatal development, cognitive decline, macular degeneration, and other neurodegenerative diseases. DHA is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acyl chain concentrated in phospholipids of brain and retina, with photoreceptor cells displaying the highest content of DHA of all cell membranes. The identification and characterization of neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1, 10R, 17S-dihydroxy-docosa-4Z, 7Z, 11E, 13E, 15Z, 19Z-hexaenoic acid) contributes to understanding the biological significance of DHA. In oxidative stress-challenged human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, human brain cells, or rat brains undergoing ischemia-reperfusion, NPD1 synthesis is enhanced as a response for sustaining homeostasis. Thus, neurotrophins, Aβ peptide 42 (Aβ42), calcium ionophore A23187, interleukin (IL)-1 β, or DHA supply enhances NPD1 synthesis. NPD1, in turn, up-regulates the anti-apoptotic proteins of the Bcl-2 family and decreases the expression of pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members. Moreover, NPD1 inhibits IL-1 β-stimulated expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Because both RPE and photoreceptors are damaged and then die in retinal degenerations, elucidating how NPD1 signaling contributes to retinal cell survival may lead to a new understanding of disease mechanisms. In human neural cells, DHA attenuates amyloid-β (Aβ) secretion, resulting in concomitant formation of NPD1. NPD1 was found to be reduced in the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) CA1 hippocampal region, but not in other areas of the brain. The expression of key enzymes for NPD1 biosynthesis, cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2), and 15-lipoxygenase (15-LOX) was found altered in the AD hippocampal CA1 region. NPD1 repressed Aβ42-triggered activation of pro-inflammatory genes and upregulated the anti-apoptotic genes encoding Bcl-2, Bcl-xl, and Bfl-1(A1) in human brain cells in culture. Overall, these results support the concept that NPD1 promotes brain and retina cell survival via the induction of anti-apoptotic and neuroprotective gene-expression programs that suppress Aβ42-induced neurotoxicity and other forms of cell injury, which in turn fosters homeostasis during development in aging, as well as during the initiation and progression of neurodegenerative diseases.
n-3 (omega-3) fatty acid; n-6 (omega-6) fatty acid; retinal pigment epithelial cell; Aβ42; Bcl-2 proteins; eicosanoids; docosanoids; inflammation; photoreceptor renewal; liver; neurotrophins; aging; Alzheimer’s disease; macular degeneration
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.
Regular consumption of food enriched in omega3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω3 PUFAs) has been shown to reduce risk of cognitive decline in elderly, and possibly development of Alzheimer's disease. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are the most likely active components of ω3-rich PUFAs diets in the brain. We therefore hypothesized that exposing mice to a DHA and EPA enriched diet may reduce neuroinflammation and protect against memory impairment in aged mice. For this purpose, mice were exposed to a control diet throughout life and were further submitted to a diet enriched in EPA and DHA during 2 additional months. Cytokine expression together with a thorough analysis of astrocytes morphology assessed by a 3D reconstruction was measured in the hippocampus of young (3-month-old) and aged (22-month-old) mice. In addition, the effects of EPA and DHA on spatial memory and associated Fos activation in the hippocampus were assessed. We showed that a 2-month EPA/DHA treatment increased these long-chain ω3 PUFAs in the brain, prevented cytokines expression and astrocytes morphology changes in the hippocampus and restored spatial memory deficits and Fos-associated activation in the hippocampus of aged mice. Collectively, these data indicated that diet-induced accumulation of EPA and DHA in the brain protects against neuroinflammation and cognitive impairment linked to aging, further reinforcing the idea that increased EPA and DHA intake may provide protection to the brain of aged subjects.
Because the first neurons evolved in an environment high in the n−3 (omega-3) fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), this fatty acid became a major component of neural structure and function and makes up 10% of the dry weight of the human brain. Since n−3 fatty acids must come from the diet, this suggests a possible positive role for dietary n−3 fatty acids in cognition and a possible negative role for n−6 fatty acids, which compete with n−3 for access to critical enzymes. Because human females must provide DHA for the growth of the unusually large brains of their offspring from maternal fat stored during childhood, their need for DHA is especially great. We used stepwise regression to determine whether particular dietary fatty acids and other nutrients were related to cognitive performance in over 4000 American children aged 6–16 from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; a variety of possible biological, social, and environmental risk factors were statistically controlled. In this context the only dietary factors related to cognitive performance were n−3 and n−6 fatty acids. Dietary n−3 fatty acids were positively related to cognitive test scores in male and female children, while n−6 showed the reverse relationship, significantly so in females. In female children the positive effects of n−3 intake were twice as strong as in males and exceeded the negative effects of lead exposure. This suggests that increasing dietary intake of n−3 and decreasing n−6 fatty acids may have cognitive benefits in children, especially in females.
essential fatty acids; DHA; cognition; diet; brain; sex differences; evolution