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
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
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
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.
Omega-3 fatty acids; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); 5-HT; 5-HIAA; estrogen; prefrontal cortex; tryptophan hydroxylase-2; serotonin transporter; 5-HT1A; female; rat
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
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.
brain; docosahexaenoic acid; kinetics; a-linolenic-acid; liver; synthesis; conversion
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
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.
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
The physical health status of vegetarians has been extensively reported, but there is limited research regarding the mental health status of vegetarians, particularly with regard to mood. Vegetarian diets exclude fish, the major dietary source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), critical regulators of brain cell structure and function. Omnivorous diets low in EPA and DHA are linked to impaired mood states in observational and experimental studies.
We examined associations between mood state and polyunsaturated fatty acid intake as a result of adherence to a vegetarian or omnivorous diet in a cross-sectional study of 138 healthy Seventh Day Adventist men and women residing in the Southwest. Participants completed a quantitative food frequency questionnaire, Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS), and Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaires.
Vegetarians (VEG:n = 60) reported significantly less negative emotion than omnivores (OMN:n = 78) as measured by both mean total DASS and POMS scores (8.32 ± 0.88 vs 17.51 ± 1.88, p = .000 and 0.10 ± 1.99 vs 15.33 ± 3.10, p = .007, respectively). VEG reported significantly lower mean intakes of EPA (p < .001), DHA (p < .001), as well as the omega-6 fatty acid, arachidonic acid (AA; p < .001), and reported higher mean intakes of shorter-chain α-linolenic acid (p < .001) and linoleic acid (p < .001) than OMN. Mean total DASS and POMS scores were positively related to mean intakes of EPA (p < 0.05), DHA (p < 0.05), and AA (p < 0.05), and inversely related to intakes of ALA (p < 0.05), and LA (p < 0.05), indicating that participants with low intakes of EPA, DHA, and AA and high intakes of ALA and LA had better mood.
The vegetarian diet profile does not appear to adversely affect mood despite low intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
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.
Aluminum; Docosahexaenoic acid; Cerebellum; behavioral study
Cross-sectional studies have found that an elevated ratio of arachidonic acid to omega-3 fatty acid is associated with depression, and controlled intervention studies have found that decreasing this ratio through administration of omega-3 fatty acids can alleviate depressive symptoms. Additionally, arachidonic acid and omega-3 fatty acids have opposing effects on inflammatory signaling. Exogenous administration of the inflammatory cytokine interferon-alpha (IFN-α) can trigger a depressive episode in a subset of vulnerable people, though associated risk factors remain poorly understood. Using a within-subject prospective design of 138 subjects, we examined whether baseline long-chain omega-3 (docosahexaenoic acid – DHA; eicosapentaenoic acid – EPA) and omega-6 (arachidonic acid – AA; di-homo-gamma-linolenic acid – DGLA) fatty acid status was associated with depression vulnerability in hepatitis C patients treated with IFN-α. Based on the literature, we had specific a priori interest in the AA/EPA+DHA ratio. Lower baseline DHA predicted depression incidence (p=0.04), as did elevated DGLA (p=0.02) and an elevated AA/EPA+DHA ratio (p=0.007). The AA/EPA+DHA ratio predicted depression even when controlling for other critical variables such as sleep quality and race. A higher AA/EPA+DHA ratio was positively associated with both increasing Montgomery-Asperg Depression Rating Scores over time (F=4.0; p<0.05) as well as interleukin-6 levels (F=107.4; p<0.05) but not C-reactive protein. Importantly, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid status was not associated with sustained viral response to IFN-α treatment. These prospective data support the role of fatty acid status in depression vulnerability and indicate a potential role for omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of inflammation-induced depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids; Inflammation; Arachidonic acid; Cytokine; Interleukin-6; C-reactive protein; Major depressive disorder
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
Fish contain essential long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 (or n-3) PUFA, but are also the main source of exposure to methylmercury (MeHg), a potent developmental neurotoxicant. Since n-3 PUFAs support neural development and function, benefits deriving from a diet rich in n-3s have been hypothesized to protect against deleterious effects of gestational MeHg exposure. To determine whether protection occurs at the behavioral level, female Long-Evans rats were exposed, in utero, to 0, 0.5, or 5 ppm of Hg as MeHg via drinking water, approximating exposures of 0, 40, and 400 μg Hg/kg/day and producing 0, 0.29, and 5.50 ppm of total Hg in the brains of siblings at birth. They also received pre- and postnatal exposure to one of two diets, both based on the AIN-93 semipurified formulation. A “fish-oil” diet was high in, and a “coconut-oil” diet was devoid of, DHA. Diets were approximately equal in α-linolenic acid and n-6 PUFAs. As adults, the rats were first assessed with a spatial discrimination reversal (SDR) procedure and later with a visual (nonspatial) discrimination reversal (VDR) procedure. MeHg increased the number of errors to criterion for both SDR and VDR during the first reversal, but effects were smaller or nonexistent on the original discrimination and on later reversals. No such MeHg-related deficits were seen when the rats were retested on SDR after two years of age. These results are consistent with previous reports and hypotheses that gestational MeHg exposure produces perseverative responding. No interactions between Diet and MeHg were found, suggesting that n-3 PUFAs do not guard against these behavioral effects. Brain Hg concentrations did not differ between the diets, either. In geriatric rats, failures to respond were less common and response latencies were shorter for rats fed the fish oil diet, suggesting that exposure to a diet rich in n-3s may lessen the impact of age-related declines in response initiation.
Methylmercury; Fish oil; Development; Operant behavior; Discrimination reversal; PUFA; Aging
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
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.
docosahexaenoic acid; liver; brain; rat; n-3 PUFAs; imaging; metabolism; phospholipase A2; BDNF; diet; arachidonic acid
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.
Liver; Synthesis-secretion rate; Conversion; Aging; Age; Metabolism; Alpha-linolenic acid; n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs); Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); Lipid
Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid deficiency, and elevated inflammatory signaling and central serotonin (5-HT) turnover have separately been implicated in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD). In the present study we investigated the interrelationship between n-3 fatty acid status, pro-inflammatory signaling activity, and central 5-HT turnover in vivo. Rats were fed diets with or without the n-3 fatty acid precursor α-linolenic acid (ALA) during perinatal development (E0-P100), and a subset of rats fed the ALA- diet were switched to the ALA+ diet post-weaning (P21-P100, repletion). In adulthood (P100), plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα), and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were measured. Additionally, indices of liver n-6 fatty acid biosynthesis, erythrocyte fatty acid composition, and regional brain monoamine turnover were determined. Indices of liver delta-6 desaturase activity were up-regulated in n-3-deficient rats, and were associated with greater erythrocyte membrane arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6) composition. Plasma IL-6 (p=0.001), TNFα (p=0.02), and CRP (p=0.001) concentrations were significantly greater in n-3-deficient rats relative to controls. The 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio was significantly greater in frontal cortex, hypothalamus, and ventral striatum of n-3-deficient rats relative to controls. Changes in membrane n-3 and n-6 fatty acid composition, elevations in plasma IL-6 and TNFα, and increased central 5-HT turnover were all prevented by normalization of n-3 fatty acid status. Erythrocyte docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) was inversely correlated, and AA and the AA/DHA ratio were positively correlated, with plasma IL-6, TNFα, and CRP levels. Plasma IL-6 levels were positively correlated with 5-HIAA/5-HT ratios in all brain regions. These preclinical data provide evidence for a functional link between n-3 fatty acid deficiency, elevated peripheral inflammatory signaling, and increased central 5-HT turnover.
Omega-3 fatty acids; Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); Arachidonic acid; Erythrocyte; Inflammation; Cytokines; C-reactive protein; Serotonin; Brain; Rats
Epidemiological and controlled intervention trials suggest that omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid deficiency represents a reversible risk factor for recurrent affective disorders. However, there is limited comparative information available regarding the n-3 fatty acid status and associated mood symptoms in medication-free patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD).
The fatty acid composition of erythrocyte membranes from adult male and female healthy controls (n=20) and medication-free patients with MDD (n=20) and BD (n=20) was determined by gas chromatography. Associations with depression and mania symptom severity scores were determined.
After correction for multiple comparisons, both MDD (-20%) and BD (-32%) patients exhibited significantly lower erythrocyte docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) composition relative to healthy controls, and there was a trend for lower DHA in BD patients relative to MDD patients (-15%, p=0.09). There were no gender differences for DHA in any group. Other n-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) and docosapentanoic acid (22:5n-3), and n-6 fatty acids, including arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6), were not different. Erythrocyte DHA composition was inversely correlated with indices of delta-9 desaturase activity (18:1/18:0), and associated elevations in oleic acid (18:1n-9) composition, and delta-6 desaturase activity (20:3/18:2). DHA composition was not significantly correlated with depression or mania symptom severity scores.
Data regarding diet and life style factors (cigarette smoking) were not available to evaluate their contribution to the present findings.
Male and female patients with MDD and BD exhibit selective erythrocyte DHA deficits relative to healthy controls, and this deficit was numerically greater in BD patients. Selective DHA deficits are consistent with impaired peroxisome function, which has implications for n-3 fatty acid interventions aimed at preventing or reversing this deficit.
Bipolar disorder; Major depressive disorder; Erythrocyte; Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); Arachidonic acid (AA); Fatty acid
Omega-3 fatty acids have been proposed as an adjuvant treatment option in psychiatric disorders. Given their other health benefits and their relative lack of toxicity, teratogenicity and side effects, they may be particularly useful in children and in females of child-bearing age, especially during pregnancy and postpartum. A comprehensive mechanistic understanding of their effects is needed. Here we report translational studies demonstrating the phenotypic normalization and gene expression effects of dietary omega-3 fatty acids, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in a stress-reactive knockout mouse model of bipolar disorder and co-morbid alcoholism, using a bioinformatic convergent functional genomics approach integrating animal model and human data to prioritize disease-relevant genes. Additionally, to validate at a behavioral level the novel observed effects on decreasing alcohol consumption, we also tested the effects of DHA in an independent animal model, alcohol-preferring (P) rats, a well-established animal model of alcoholism. Our studies uncover sex differences, brain region-specific effects and blood biomarkers that may underpin the effects of DHA. Of note, DHA modulates some of the same genes targeted by current psychotropic medications, as well as increases myelin-related gene expression. Myelin-related gene expression decrease is a common, if nonspecific, denominator of neuropsychiatric disorders. In conclusion, our work supports the potential utility of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, for a spectrum of psychiatric disorders such as stress disorders, bipolar disorder, alcoholism and beyond.
alcoholism; bipolar; DHA; genomics; omega-3; stress
Background and Purpose
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA 22:6n-3), an omega-3 essential fatty acid family member, is the precursor of neuroprotectin D1, which downregulates apoptosis and, in turn, promotes cell survival. This study was conducted to assess whether DHA would show neuroprotective efficacy when systemically administered in different doses after middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo) in rats.
Sprague-Dawley rats were anesthetized with isoflurane and subjected to 2 h of MCAo. Animals were treated with either DHA (low doses=3.5 or 7 mg/kg; medium doses= 16 or 35 mg/kg; and high dose= 70 mg/kg) or an equivalent volume of saline, IV, at 3 h after MCAo onset. The neurological status was evaluated during occlusion (60 min), and on day 1, 2, 3 and 7 after MCAo. Seven days after MCAo, brains were perfusion-fixed, and infarct areas and volumes were determined.
Only the low and medium doses of DHA significantly improved the neurological score compared to vehicle rats at 24 h, 48 h, 72 h and 7 days. DHA markedly reduced total corrected infarct volume in all treated groups compared to vehicle rats (3.5 mg/kg: 26±9, 7 mg/kg: 46±12, 16 mg/kg: 37±5, and 35 mg/kg: 34±15 vs. vehicle: 94±12 mm3). Cortical and striatal infarct volumes were also significantly reduced by treatment with DHA. No neuroprotective effects were observed with 70 mg/kg of DHA.
We conclude that DHA experimental therapy in low and medium doses improves neurological and histological outcome following focal cerebral ischemia and might provide benefits in patients suffering ischemic stroke.
focal ischemia; lipids; neuroprotection; animal models
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.
Experimental studies indicate that gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may inhibit glioma cells growth but effects of oral consumption of these fatty acids on brain tumor fatty acid composition have not been determined in vivo.
GLA oil (GLAO; 72% GLA), DHA oil (DHAO; 73% DHA) were fed to adult wistar rats (1 mL/rat/day) starting one week prior to C6 glioma cells implantation and continued for two weeks after implantation. Control group were fed same amount of high linoleic acid safflower oil (74–77% linoleic acid). Fatty acid composition of tumor samples was determined in a set of 8–12 animals in each group and serum fatty acid in 6 animals per each group. Gene expression of tumor fatty acid binding protein 7 (FABP7), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), peroxisome proliferator activated receptor γ (PPAR-γ) and retinoid × receptor-α (RXR-α) were determined in a set of 18 animals per group.
DHAO feeding increased EPA of brain tumors and decreased ratio of n-6/n-3 fatty acids. Serum levels of EPA were also increased in DHAO group. A similar trend in serum and tumor levels of DHA were observed in DHAO group but it did not achieve statistical significance. GLAO increased serum concentration of GLA but had no significant effect on tumor GLA or dihomo-gamma linolenic acid (DGLA) concentrations. Gene expression of FABP7 was up-regulated in tumors of DHAO group but no other significant effects were observed on EGFR, PPAR-γ or RXR-α expression, and expression of these genes in tumors of GLAO were not different from SFO group.
Dietary supplementation of DHA containing oil could be an effective way to increase levels of long chain n-3 fatty acids in brain tumors and this increase may be mediated partly by up-regulation of FABP7 expression.
Purpose of review
With important effects on neuronal lipid composition, neurochemical signaling and cerebrovascular pathobiology, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, may emerge as a neuroprotective agent against cerebrovascular disease. This paper examines pathways for DHA accretion in brain and evidence for possible roles of DHA in prophylactic and therapeutic approaches for cerebrovascular disease.
DHA is a major n-3 fatty acid in the mammalian central nervous system and enhances synaptic activities in neuronal cells. DHA can be obtained through diet or to a limited extent via conversion from its precursor, α-linolenic acid (α-LNA). DHA attenuates brain necrosis after hypoxic ischemic injury, principally by modulating membrane biophysical properties and maintaining integrity in functions between pre-and post-synaptic areas, resulting in better stabilizing intracellular ion balance in hypoxic-ischemic insult. Additionally, DHA alleviates brain apoptosis, by inducing anti-apoptotic activities such as decreasing responses to reactive oxygen species, up-regulating anti-apoptotic protein expression, down-regulating apoptotic protein expression, and maintaining mitochondrial integrity and function.
DHA in brain relates to a number of efficient delivery and accretion pathways. In animal models DHA renders neuroprotection after hypoxic-ischemic injury by regulating multiple molecular pathways and gene expression.
Docosahexaenoic acid; omega 3; polyunsaturated fatty acid; neuroprotection; hypoxic-ischemic brain
The interest in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) has expanded significantly in the last few years, due to their many positive effects described. Consequently, the interest in fish oil supplementation has also increased, and many different types of fish oil supplements can be found on the market. Also, it is well known that these types of fatty acids are very easily oxidized, and that stability among supplements varies greatly.
Aims of the study
In this pilot study we investigated the effects of two different types of natural fish oils containing different amounts of the n-3 PUFAs eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and antioxidants on plasma and brain fatty acids, blood lipids, vitamin E, and in vivo lipid peroxidation, as well as brain nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity, an enzyme which has been shown to be important for memory and learning ability.
Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into four groups and fed regular rat chow pellets enriched with 5% (w/w) of butter (control group), a natural fish oil (17.4% EPA and 11.7% DHA, referred to as EPA-rich), and a natural fish oil rich in DHA (7.7% EPA and 28.0% DHA, referred to as DHA-rich). Both of the fish oils were stabilized by a commercial antioxidant protection system (Pufanox®) at production. The fourth group received the same DHA-rich oil, but without Pufanox® stabilization (referred to as unstable). As an index of stability of the oils, their peroxide values were repeatedly measured during 9 weeks. The dietary treatments continued until sacrifice, after 10 days.
Stability of the oils varied greatly. It took the two stabilized oils 9 weeks to reach the same peroxide value as the unstable oil reached after only a few days. Both the stabilized EPA- and DHA-rich diets lowered the triacylglycerols and total cholesterol compared to control (-45%, P < 0.05 and -54%, P < 0.001; -31%, P < 0.05 and -25%, P < 0.01) and so did the unstable oil, but less efficiently. Only the unstable oil increased in vivo lipid peroxidation significantly compared to control (+40%, P < 0.001). Most of the fatty acids in the plasma phospholipids were significantly affected by both the EPA- and DHA-rich diets compared to control, reflecting their specific fatty acid pattern. The unstable oil diet resulted in smaller changes, especially in n-3 PUFAs. In the brain phospholipids the changes were less pronounced, and only the diet enriched with the stabilized DHA-rich oil resulted in a significantly greater incorporation of DHA (+13%, P < 0.01), as well as total n-3 PUFAs (+13%, P < 0.01) compared to control. Only the stabilized DHA-rich oil increased the brain NOS activity (+33%, P < 0.01).
Both the EPA- and DHA-rich diets affected the blood lipids in a similarly positive manner, and they both had a large impact on plasma phospholipid fatty acids. It was only the unstable oil that increased in vivo lipid peroxidation. However, the intake of DHA was more important than that of EPA for brain phospholipid DHA enrichment and brain NOS activity, and the stability of the fish oil was also important for these effects.
Antioxidants; brain; DHA; EPA; fish oil; lipid peroxidation; nitric oxide synthase