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) and DHA-containing ethanolamine plasmalogens (PlsEtn) are decreased in the brain, liver and the circulation in Alzheimer's disease. Decreased supply of plasmalogen precursors to the brain by the liver, as a result of peroxisomal deficits is a process that probably starts early in the AD disease process. To overcome this metabolic compromise, we have designed an orally bioavailable DHA-containing ether lipid precursor of plasmalogens. PPI-1011 is an alkyl-diacyl plasmalogen precursor with palmitic acid at sn-1, DHA at sn-2 and lipoic acid at sn-3. This study outlines the oral pharmacokinetics of this precursor and its conversion to PlsEtn and phosphatidylethanolamines (PtdEtn).
Rabbits were dosed orally with PPI-1011 in hard gelatin capsules for time-course and dose response studies. Incorporation into PlsEtn and PtdEtn was monitored by LC-MS/MS. Metabolism of released lipoic acid was monitored by GC-MS. To monitor the metabolic fate of different components of PPI-1011, we labeled the sn-1 palmitic acid, sn-2 DHA and glycerol backbone with13C and monitored their metabolic fates by LC-MS/MS.
PPI-1011 was not detected in plasma suggesting rapid release of sn-3 lipoic acid via gut lipases. This conclusion was supported by peak levels of lipoic acid metabolites in the plasma 3 hours after dosing. While PPI-1011 did not gain access to the plasma, it increased circulating levels of DHA-containing PlsEtn and PtdEtn. Labeling experiments demonstrated that the PtdEtn increases resulted from increased availability of DHA released via remodeling at sn-2 of phospholipids derived from PPI-1011. This release of DHA peaked at 6 hrs while increases in phospholipids peaked at 12 hr. Increases in circulating PlsEtn were more complex. Labeling experiments demonstrated that increases in the target PlsEtn, 16:0/22:6, consisted of 2 pools. In one pool, the intact precursor received a sn-3 phosphoethanolamine group and desaturation at sn-1 to generate the target plasmalogen. The second pool, like the PtdEtn, resulted from increased availability of DHA released during remodeling of sn-2. In the case of sn-1 18:0 and 18:1 plasmalogens with [13C3]DHA at sn-2, labeling was the result of increased availability of [13C3]DHA from lipid remodeling. Isotope and repeated dosing (2 weeks) experiments also demonstrated that plasmalogens and/or plasmalogen precursors derived from PPI-1011 are able to cross both the blood-retinal and blood-brain barriers.
Our data demonstrate that PPI-1011, an ether lipid precursor of plasmalogens is orally bioavailable in the rabbit, augmenting the circulating levels of unesterified DHA and DHA-containing PlsEtn and PtdEtn. Other ethanolamine plasmalogens were generated from the precursor via lipid remodeling (de-acylation/re-acylation reactions at sn-2) and phosphatidylethanolamines were generated via de-alkylation/re-acylation reactions at sn-1. Repeated oral dosing for 2 weeks with PPI-1011 resulted in dose-dependent increases in circulating DHA and DHA-containing plasmalogens. These products and/or precursors were also able to cross the blood-retinal and blood-brain barriers.
Mediator lipidomics is a field of study concerned with the characterization, structural elucidation and bioactivity of lipid derivatives generated by enzymatic activity. Omega-3 fatty acids have beneficial effects for vision, brain function, cardiovascular function, and immune-inflammatory responses. Docosahexaenoic acid [DHA; 22:6(n-3)], the most abundant essential omega-3 fatty acid in the human body, is selectively enriched and avidly retained in the central nervous system as an acyl chain of phospholipids. Brain-ischemia reperfusion and seizures trigger rapid release of DHA and of arachidonic acid (AA) as free, unesterified fatty acids. AA in turn generates eicosanoids, and DHA forms docosanoids. The stereoselective docosanoid neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1; 10R,17S-dihydroxy-docosa-4Z,7Z,11E,15E,19Z hexaenoic acid) is formed early in brain-ischemia reperfusion. Supplementation of NPD1 (intracerebroventricularly; i.c.v.) or of DHA (i.c.v. or systemically) results in decreased infarct size, polymorphonuclear neutrophil infiltration, ischemia-induced nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) activation, and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) induction. DHA involvement in cell function includes enhancing Akt translocation and activation, and binding to a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-γ) family of ligand-activated nuclear receptors. Here we present an overview of recent DHA-mediator lipidomic studies in experimental brain ischemia-reperfusion and other conditions.
The harmony and function of the complex brain circuits and synapses are sustained mainly by excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission, neurotrophins, gene regulation, and factors, many of which are incompletely understood. A common feature of brain circuit components, such as dendrites, synaptic membranes, and other membranes of the nervous system, is that they are richly endowed in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the main member of the omega-3 essential fatty acid family. DHA is avidly retained and concentrated in the nervous system and known to play a role in neuroprotection, memory, and vision. Only recently has it become apparent why the surprisingly rapid increases in free (unesterified) DHA pool size take place at the onset of seizures or brain injury. This phenomenon began to be clarified by the discovery of neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), the first-uncovered bioactive docosanoid formed from free DHA through 15-lipoxygenase-1 (15-LOX-1). NPD1 synthesis includes, as agonists, oxidative stress and neurotrophins. The evolving concept is that DHA-derived docosanoids set in motion endogenous signaling to sustain homeostatic synaptic and circuit integrity. NPD1 is anti-inflammatory, displays inflammatory resolving activities, and induces cell survival, which is in contrast to the pro-inflammatory actions of the many of omega-6 fatty acid family members. We highlight here studies relevant to the ability of DHA to sustain neuronal function and protect synapses and circuits in the context of DHA signalolipidomics. DHA signalolipidomics comprises the integration of the cellular/tissue mechanism of DHA uptake, its distribution among cellular compartments, the organization and function of membrane domains containing DHA phospholipids, and the precise cellular and molecular events revealed by the uncovering of signaling pathways regulated by docosanoids endowed with prohomeostatic and cell survival bioactivity. Therefore, this approach offers emerging targets for prevention, pharmaceutical intervention, and clinical translation involving DHA-mediated signaling.
Epilepsy; Neuroprotectin D1; Photoreceptors; Retinal pigment epithelial cells; Liver
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 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.
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
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
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most abundant long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid in the brain. Epidemiological studies suggest that consumption of DHA is associated with a reduced incidence of Alzheimer disease. Animal studies demonstrate that oral intake of DHA reduces Alzheimer-like brain pathology.
To determine if supplementation with DHA slows cognitive and functional decline in individuals with Alzheimer disease.
Design, Setting, and Patients
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of DHA supplementation in individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease (Mini-Mental State Examination scores, 14–26) was conducted between November 2007 and May 2009 at 51 US clinical research sites of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study.
Participants were randomly assigned to algal DHA at a dose of 2 g/d or to identical placebo (60% were assigned to DHA and 40% were assigned to placebo). Duration of treatment was 18 months.
Main Outcome Measures
Change in the cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog) and change in the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) sum of boxes. Rate of brain atrophy was also determined by volumetric magnetic resonance imaging in a subsample of participants (n = 102).
A total of 402 individuals were randomized and a total of 295 participants completed the trial while taking study medication (DHA: 171; placebo: 124). Supplementation with DHA had no beneficial effect on rate of change on ADAS-cog score, which increased by a mean of 7.98 points (95% confidence interval [CI], 6.51–9.45 points) for the DHA group during 18 months vs 8.27 points (95% CI, 6.72–9.82 points) for the placebo group (linear mixed-effects model: P = .41). The CDR sum of boxes score increased by 2.87 points (95% CI, 2.44–3.30 points) for the DHA group during 18 months compared with 2.93 points (95% CI, 2.44–3.42 points) for the placebo group (linear mixed-effects model: P = .68). In the subpopulation of participants (DHA: 53; placebo: 49), the rate of brain atrophy was not affected by treatment with DHA. Individuals in the DHA group had a mean decline in total brain volume of 24.7 cm3 (95% CI, 21.4–28.0 cm3) during 18 months and a 1.32% (95% CI, 1.14%–1.50%) volume decline per year compared with 24.0 cm3 (95% CI, 20–28 cm3) for the placebo group during 18 months and a 1.29% (95% CI, 1.07%–1.51%) volume decline per year (P = .79).
Supplementation with DHA compared with placebo did not slow the rate of cognitive and functional decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease.
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
Modern humans have evolved with a staple source of preformed docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the diet. An important turning point in human evolution was the discovery of high-quality, easily digested nutrients from coastal seafood and inland freshwater sources. Multi-generational exploitation of seafood by shore-based dwellers coincided with the rapid expansion of grey matter in the cerebral cortex, which characterizes the modern human brain. The DHA molecule has unique structural properties that appear to provide optimal conditions for a wide range of cell membrane functions. This has particular implications for grey matter, which is membrane-rich tissue. An important metabolic role for DHA has recently been identified as the precursor for resolvins and protectins. The rudimentary source of DHA is marine algae; therefore it is found concentrated in fish and marine oils. Unlike the photosynthetic cells in algae and higher plants, mammalian cells lack the specific enzymes required for the de novo synthesis of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the precursor for all omega-3 fatty acid syntheses. Endogenous synthesis of DHA from ALA in humans is much lower and more limited than previously assumed. The excessive consumption of omega-6 fatty acids in the modern Western diet further displaces DHA from membrane phospholipids. An emerging body of research is exploring a unique role for DHA in neurodevelopment and the prevention of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. DHA is increasingly being added back into the food supply as fish oil or algal oil supplementation.
docosahexaenoic acid; DHA; omega-3 fatty acids; n-3 fatty acids; brain evolution; erythrocyte phospholipids; algal oil; fish oil; nutritional supplementation
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
In multiple sclerosis (MS), compromised blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity contributes to inflammatory T cell migration into the central nervous system. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is associated with BBB disruption and subsequent T cell migration into the CNS. The aim of this paper was to evaluate the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on MMP-9 levels and T cell migration. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from healthy controls were pretreated with two types of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Cell supernatants were used to determine MMP-9 protein and activity levels. Jurkat cells were pretreated with EPA and DHA and were added to fibronectin-coated transwells to measure T cell migration. EPA and DHA significantly decreased MMP-9 protein levels, MMP-9 activity, and significantly inhibited human T cell migration. The data suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may benefit patients with multiple sclerosis by modulating immune cell production of MMP-9.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) is the principal omega-3 fatty acid in mammalian brain gray matter, and emerging preclinical evidence suggests that DHA has neurotrophic and neuroprotective properties. This study investigated relationships among DHA status, neurocognitive performance, and cortical metabolism measured with proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) in healthy developing male children (aged 8–10 years, n = 38). Subjects were segregated into low-DHA (n = 19) and high-DHA (n = 19) status groups by a median split of erythrocyte DHA levels. Group differences in 1H MRS indices of cortical metabolism, including choline (Cho), creatine (Cr), glutamine + glutamate + γ-aminobutyric acid (Glx), myo-inositol (mI), and N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), were determined in the right and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (R/L-DLPFC, BA9) and bilateral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC, BA32/33). Group differences in neurocognitive performance were evaluated with the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test and identical-pairs version of the continuous performance task (CPT-IP). Subjects in the low-DHA group consumed fish less frequently (P = 0.02), had slower reaction times on the CPT-IP (P = 0.007), and exhibited lower mI (P = 0.007), NAA (P = 0.007), Cho (P = 0.009), and Cr (P = 0.01) concentrations in the ACC compared with the high-DHA group. There were no group differences in ACC Glx or any metabolite in the L-DLPFC and R-DLPFC. These data indicate that low-DHA status is associated with reduced indices of metabolic function in the ACC and slower reaction time during sustained attention in developing male children.
Docosahexaenoic acid; myo-inositol; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Anterior cingulate cortex; Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy; omega-3 fatty acid; omega-6 fatty acid
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
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
The identification of neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), a biosynthetic product of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in brain and retina as well as the characterization of its bioactivity, is generating a renewed interest in the functional role and pathophysiological significance of omega-3 fatty acids in the central nervous system.
Neurotrophins, particularly pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), induce NPD1 synthesis and its polarized apical secretion, implying paracrine and autocrine bioactivity of this lipid mediator. Also, DHA and PEDF synergistically activate NPD1 synthesis and antiapoptotic protein expression and decreased proapoptotic Bcl-2 protein expression and caspase 3 activation during oxidative stress.
In experimental stroke, endogenous NPD1 synthesis was found to be upregulated, and the infusion of the lipid mediator into the brain under these conditions revealed neuroprotective bioactivity of NPD1.
The hippocampal CA1 region from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients (rapidly sampled) shows a major reduction in NPD1.
The interplay of DHA-derived neuroprotective signaling aims to counteract proinflammatory, cell-damaging events triggered by multiple, converging cytokine and amyloid peptide factors, as in the case of AD. Generation of NPD1 from DHA thereby appears to redirect cellular fate toward successful preservation of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE)-photoreceptor cell integrity and brain cell aging. The Bcl-2 pro- and antiapoptotic proteins, neurotrophins, and NPD1, lie along a cell fate-regulatory pathway whose component members are highly interactive, and have potential to function cooperatively in cell survival. Agents that stimulate NPD1 biosynthesis, NPD1 analogs, or dietary regimens may be useful as new preventive/therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative diseases.
Omega-3 (ω-3) fatty acids are one of the two main families of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). The main omega-3 fatty acids in the mammalian body are α-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Central nervous tissues of vertebrates are characterized by a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, in the human brain, DHA is considered as the main structural omega-3 fatty acid, which comprises about 40% of the PUFAs in total. DHA deficiency may be the cause of many disorders such as depression, inability to concentrate, excessive mood swings, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dry skin and so on. On the other hand, zinc is the most abundant trace metal in the human brain. There are many scientific studies linking zinc, especially excess amounts of free zinc, to cellular death. Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are characterized by altered zinc metabolism. Both animal model studies and human cell culture studies have shown a possible link between omega-3 fatty acids, zinc transporter levels and free zinc availability at cellular levels. Many other studies have also suggested a possible omega-3 and zinc effect on neurodegeneration and cellular death. Therefore, in this review, we will examine the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on zinc transporters and the importance of free zinc for human neuronal cells. Moreover, we will evaluate the collective understanding of mechanism(s) for the interaction of these elements in neuronal research and their significance for the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegeneration.
omega-3 fatty acids; DHA; zinc; ZnT3; zinc transporter; free zinc; M17 human neuronal cells; apoptosis
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
Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) are important mediators in improving and maintaining human health over the total lifespan. One topic we especially focus on in this review is omega-3 LC-PUFA docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Adequate DHA levels are essential during neurodevelopment and, in addition, beneficial in cognitive processes throughout life. We review the impact of DHA on societal relevant metabolic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM). All of these are risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia in later life. DHA supplementation is associated with a reduced incidence of both stroke and atherosclerosis, lower bodyweight and decreased T2DM prevalence. These findings are discussed in the light of different stages in the human life cycle: childhood, adolescence, adulthood and in later life. From this review, it can be concluded that DHA supplementation is able to inhibit pathologies like obesity and cardiovascular disease. DHA could be a dietary protector against these metabolic diseases during a person’s entire lifespan. However, supplementation of DHA in combination with other dietary factors is also effective. The efficacy of DHA depends on its dose as well as on the duration of supplementation, sex, and age.
docosahexaenoic acid; humans; metabolic diseases; cardiovascular disease; obesity; diabetes mellitus type II
We examined the neuroprotective efficacy of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 essential fatty acid family member, in acute ischemic stroke; studied the therapeutic window; and investigated whether DHA administration after an ischemic stroke is able to salvage the penumbra. In each series described below, SD rats underwent 2 h of middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo). In series 1, DHA or saline was administered i.v. at 3, 4, 5, or 6 h after stroke. In series 2, MRI was conducted on days 1, 3 and 7. In series 3, DHA or saline was administered at 3 h, and lipidomic analysis was conducted on day 3. Treatment with DHA significantly improved behavior and reduced total infarct volume by a mean of 40% when administered at 3 h, by 66% at 4 h, and by 59% at 5 h. Total lesion volumes computed from T2-weighted images were reduced in the DHA group at all time points. Lipidomic analysis showed that DHA treatment potentiates neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1) synthesis in the penumbra 3 days after MCAo. DHA administration provides neurobehavioral recovery, reduces brain infarction and edema, and activates NPD1 synthesis in the penumbra when administered up to 5 h after focal cerebral ischemia in rats.
Focal ischemia; Magnetic resonance imaging; Neuroprotection; Animal models
It has been suggested that cognitive decline in aging is the consequence of a growing vulnerability to an asymptomatic state of neuroinflammation. Moreover, it is becoming more evident that inflammation occurs in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and that the classical mediators of inflammation, eicosanoids and cytokines, may contribute to the neurodegeneration. In agreement with this observation, aspirin (ASA) - a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug - may protect against AD and/or vascular dementia. However, both the time of prescription and the dose of ASA may be critical. A major indication for low-dose ASA is in combination with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA plays an essential role in neural function and its anti-inflammatory properties are associated with the well-known ability of this fatty acid to inhibit the production of various pro-inflammatory mediators, including eicosanoids and cytokines. Higher DHA intake is inversely correlated with relative risk of AD and DHA+ASA supplement may further decrease cognitive decline in healthy elderly adults. Although low-dose ASA may be insufficient for any anti-inflammatory action the concomitant presence of DHA favours a neuroprotective role for ASA. This depends on the allosteric effects of ASA on cyclooxygenase-2 and following production - from DHA - of specific lipid mediators (resolvins, protectins, and electrophilic oxo-derivatives). ASA and DHA might protect against AD, although controlled trials are warranted.
Cytokines; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); aspirin (ASA); resolvins; neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); primary prevention
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.
A growing body of evidence suggests that deficits in long-chain omega-3 (LCn-3) fatty acids may contribute to major depressive disorder (MDD) and principal causes of excess mortality including suicide and cardiovascular disease. In the present study we compared concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3), the principal LCn-3 fatty acid in brain, in the postmortem prefrontal cortex (BA10) of adult depressed suicide victims and controls with and/or without cardiovascular disease.
DHA concentrations (μmol/g) in the prefrontal cortex (PFC, BA10) of adult male and female suicide victims (n=20) and controls with (n=8) or without (n=12) cardiovascular disease were determined by gas chromatography.
There was a non-significant trend for lower DHA concentrations in suicide victims compared with all controls (−10%, p=0.06, d = 0.5). Significantly lower DHA concentrations were observed in suicide victims compared with controls without cardiovascular disease (−14%, p=0.03, d = 0.7) but not controls with cardiovascular disease (−4%, p=0.71, d = 0.1). There was a non-significant trend for lower DHA concentrations in controls with cardiovascular disease compared with controls without cardiovascular disease (−11%, p=0.1, d = 0.6).
Adult depressed suicide victims exhibit lower postmortem PFC DHA concentrations compared with controls without cardiovascular disease. These data add to a growing body of evidence implicating DHA deficits in the pathophysiology of MDD, suicide, and cardiovascular disease.
Suicide; adolescent; prefrontal cortex; postmortem brain; omega-3 fatty acid; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Chronic alcohol dependence has been associated with disturbed behavior, cerebral atrophy and a low plasma concentration of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22∶6n-3), particularly if liver disease is present. In animal models, excessive alcohol consumption is reported to reduce brain DHA concentration, suggesting disturbed brain DHA metabolism. We hypothesized that brain DHA metabolism also is abnormal in chronic alcoholics.
We compared 15 non-smoking chronic alcoholics, studied within 7 days of their last drink, with 22 non-smoking healthy controls. Using published neuroimaging methods with positron emission tomography (PET), we measured regional coefficients (K*) and rates (Jin) of DHA incorporation from plasma into the brain of each group using [1-11C]DHA, and regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) using [15O]water. Data were partial volume error corrected for brain atrophy. Plasma unesterified DHA concentration also was quantified.
Mean K* for DHA was significantly and widely elevated by 10–20%, and rCBF was elevated by 7%–34%, in alcoholics compared with controls. Unesterified plasma DHA did not differ significantly between groups nor did whole brain Jin, the product of K* and unesterified plasma DHA concentration.
Significantly higher values of K* for DHA in alcoholics indicate increased brain avidity for DHA, thus a brain DHA metabolic deficit vis-à-vis plasma DHA availability. Higher rCBF in alcoholics suggests increased energy consumption. These changes may reflect a hypermetabolic state related to early alcohol withdrawal, or a general brain metabolic change in chronic alcoholics.