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1.  N-Docosahexaenoylethanolamide promotes development of hippocampal neurons 
The Biochemical journal  2011;435(2):327-336.
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, C22:6,n−3) has been shown to promote neurite growth and synaptogenesis in embryonic hippocampal neurons, supporting the importance of DHA known for hippocampus-related learning and memory function. In the present study, we demonstrate that DHA metabolism to DEA (N-docosahexaenoylethanolamide) is a significant mechanism for hippocampal neuronal development, contributing to synaptic function. We found that a fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitor URB597 potentiates DHA-induced neurite growth, synaptogenesis and synaptic protein expression. Active metabolism of DHA to DEA was observed in embryonic day 18 hippocampal neuronal cultures, which was increased further by URB597. Synthetic DEA promoted hippocampal neurite growth and synaptogenesis at substantially lower concentrations in comparison with DHA. DEA-treated neurons increased the expression of synapsins and glutamate receptor subunits and exhibited enhanced glutamatergic synaptic activity, as was the case for DHA. The DEA level in mouse fetal hippocampi was altered according to the maternal dietary supply of n−3 fatty acids, suggesting that DEA formation is a relevant in vivo process responding to the DHA status. In conclusion, DHA metabolism to DEA is a significant biochemical mechanism for neurite growth, synaptogenesis and synaptic protein expression, leading to enhanced glutamatergic synaptic function. The novel DEA-dependent mechanism offers a new molecular insight into hippocampal neurodevelopment and function.
PMCID: PMC3169088  PMID: 21281269
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); N-docosahexaenoylethanolamide (DEA); hippocampus; neurite growth; neuron; synaptogenesis
2.  Synaptamide, endocannabinoid-like derivative of docosahexaenoic acid with cannabinoid-independent function 
Docosahexaenoylethanolamide, the structural analog of the endogenous cannabinoid receptor ligand anandamide, is synthesized from docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the brain. Although docosahexaenoylethanolamide binds weakly to cannabinoid receptors, it stimulates neurite growth, synaptogenesis and glutamatergic synaptic activity in developing hippocampal neurons at concentrations of 10–100 nM. We have previously proposed the term synaptamide for docosahexaenoylethanolamide to emphasize its potent synaptogenic activity and structural similarity to anandamide. Synaptamide is subjected to hydrolysis by fatty acid amide hydrolase, and can be oxygenated to bioactive metabolites. The brain synaptamide content is dependent on the dietary DHA intake, suggesting an endogenous mechanism whereby diets containing adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids improve synaptogenesis in addition to well-recognized anti-inflammatory effects.
PMCID: PMC3541447  PMID: 22959887
Synaptamide; Synaptogenesis; Neuritogenesis; N-docosahexaenoylethanolamine; Docosahexaenoic acid; Omega-3 fatty acid; Fatty acid amide hydrolase; Endocannabinoids; Anandamide
3.  Docosahexaenoic acid promotes hippocampal neuronal development and synaptic function 
Journal of neurochemistry  2009;111(2):510-521.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3), the major polyunsaturated fatty acid accumulated in the brain during development, has been implicated in learning and memory, but underlying cellular mechanisms are not clearly understood. Here, we demonstrate that DHA significantly affects hippocampal neuronal development and synaptic function in developing hippocampi. In embryonic neuronal cultures, DHA supplementation uniquely promoted neurite growth, synapsin puncta formation and synaptic protein expression, particularly synapsins and glutamate receptors. In DHA-supplemented neurons, spontaneous synaptic activity was significantly increased, mostly because of enhanced glutamatergic synaptic activity. Conversely, hippocampal neurons from DHA-depleted fetuses showed inhibited neurite growth and synaptogenesis. Furthermore, n-3 fatty acid deprivation during development resulted in marked decreases of synapsins and glutamate receptor subunits in the hippocampi of 18-day-old pups with concomitant impairment of long-term potentiation, a cellular mechanism underlying learning and memory. While levels of synapsins and NMDA receptor subunit NR2A were decreased in most hippocampal regions, NR2A expression was particularly reduced in CA3, suggesting possible role of DHA in CA3-NMDA receptor-dependent learning and memory processes. The DHA-induced neurite growth, synaptogenesis, synapsin, and glutamate receptor expression, and glutamatergic synaptic function may represent important cellular aspects supporting the hippocampus-related cognitive function improved by DHA.
PMCID: PMC2773444  PMID: 19682204
docosahexaenoic acid; hippocampal development; long-term potentiation; neurite growth; synaptic function; synaptogenesis
4.  Role of RXR in Neurite Outgrowth Induced by Docosahexaenoic Acid 
We have previously demonstrated that DHA at low micromolar concentrations has a remarkable effect on morphological differentiation of hippocampal neurons by increasing the population of neurons with more branches and longer neurites. In this study, possible involvement of the retinoid X receptor (RXR) in the DHA-induced hippocampal neurite outgrowth was evaluated as DHA is an endogenous ligand for RXR. Immunocytochemical examination revealed that all RXR isoforms, RXR-alpha, -beta 1, -beta 2 and -gamma, are expressed exclusively in neurons with distinctive intracellular distribution. The cell-based dual luciferase reporter assay indicated that DHA activates RXRα at or above 10 μM but not at 1.5 μM where DHA induces neurite outgrowth. Arachidonic acid also activated RXRα in a similar concentration range but with lower efficacy. Our results suggest that DHA-induced neurite outgrowth may not be mediated by direct activation of RXRα, although involvement of other isoforms or DHA metabolites can not be excluded.
PMCID: PMC2174793  PMID: 18036800
RXR; docosahexaenoic acid; arachidonic acid; hippocampal; neuronal cells
5.  Effects of docosahexaenoic acid on mouse brain synaptic plasma membrane proteome analyzed by mass spectrometry and 16O/18O labeling 
Journal of proteome research  2011;10(12):5472-5480.
Docosahexenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) plays an important role in development of proper brain function in mammals. We have previously reported that DHA promotes synaptogenesis and synaptic function in hippocampal neurons while DHA-depletion in the brain due to n-3 fatty acid deficiency produces opposite effects. To gain insight into underlying molecular mechanisms, we investigated whether the brain DHA status affects the synaptic plasma membrane (SPM) proteome by using nanoLC/ESI-MS/MS and 16O/18O labeling. The DHA level in mouse brains was lowered by dietary depletion of n-3 fatty acids, and SPM was prepared by differential centrifugation followed by osmotic shock. SPM proteins from DHA-adequate and depleted brains were analyzed by nanoLC/ESI-MS/MS after SDS-PAGE, in-gel digestion and differential O18/O16 labeling. This strategy allowed comparative quantitation of more than 200 distinct membrane or membrane-associated proteins from DHA-adequate or depleted brains. We found that 18 pre- and postsynaptic proteins that are relevant to synaptic physiology were significantly down-regulated in DHA-depleted mouse brains. The protein network analysis suggests involvement of CREB and caspase-3 pathways in the DHA-dependent modulation of synaptic proteome. Reduction of specific synaptic proteins due to brain DHA-depletion may be an important mechanism for the suboptimal brain function associated with n-3 fatty acid deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3458425  PMID: 22003853
Synaptic plasma membrane (SPM); synaptic proteins; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); 18O labeling; nano-LC/ESI-MS/MS; brain
6.  Effects of Docosahexaenoic Acid on Neurotransmission 
Biomolecules & Therapeutics  2012;20(2):152-157.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the major polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in the brain and a structural component of neuronal membranes. Changes in DHA content of neuronal membranes lead to functional changes in the activity of receptors and other proteins which might be associated with synaptic function. Accumulating evidence suggests the beneficial effects of dietary DHA supplementation on neurotransmission. This article reviews the beneficial effects of DHA on the brain; uptake, incorporation and release of DHA at synapses, effects of DHA on synapses, effects of DHA on neurotransmitters, DHA metabolites, and changes in DHA with age. Further studies to better understand the metabolome of DHA could result in more effective use of this molecule for treatment of neurodegenerative or neuropsychiatric diseases.
PMCID: PMC3792211  PMID: 24116288
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA); Neurodegeneration; Depression; Anti-nociception
7.  The Salutary Effects of DHA Dietary Supplementation on Cognition, Neuroplasticity, and Membrane Homeostasis after Brain Trauma 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2011;28(10):2113-2122.
The pathology of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is characterized by the decreased capacity of neurons to metabolize energy and sustain synaptic function, likely resulting in cognitive and emotional disorders. Based on the broad nature of the pathology, we have assessed the potential of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to counteract the effects of concussive injury on important aspects of neuronal function and cognition. Fluid percussion injury (FPI) or sham injury was performed, and rats were then maintained on a diet high in DHA (1.2% DHA) for 12 days. We found that DHA supplementation, which elevates brain DHA content, normalized levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), synapsin I (Syn-1), cAMP-responsive element-binding protein (CREB), and calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII), and improved learning ability in FPI rats. It is known that BDNF facilitates synaptic transmission and learning ability by modulating Syn-I, CREB, and CaMKII signaling. The DHA diet also counteracted the FPI-reduced manganese superoxide dismutase (SOD) and Sir2 (a NAD+-dependent deacetylase). Given the involvement of SOD and Sir2 in promoting metabolic homeostasis, DHA may help the injured brain by providing resistance to oxidative stress. Furthermore, DHA normalized levels of calcium-independent phospholipase A2 (iPLA2) and syntaxin-3, which may help preserve membrane homeostasis and function after FPI. The overall results emphasize the potential of dietary DHA to counteract broad and fundamental aspects of TBI pathology that may translate into preserved cognitive capacity.
PMCID: PMC3191367  PMID: 21851229
brain-derived neurotrophic factor; plasticity; Sir2; superoxide dismutase; traumatic brain injury
8.  A role for docosahexaenoic acid–derived neuroprotectin D1 in neural cell survival and Alzheimer disease 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;115(10):2774-2783.
Deficiency in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a brain-essential omega-3 fatty acid, is associated with cognitive decline. Here we report that, in cytokine-stressed human neural cells, DHA attenuates amyloid-β (Aβ) secretion, an effect accompanied by the formation of NPD1, a novel, DHA-derived 10,17S-docosatriene. DHA and NPD1 were reduced in Alzheimer disease (AD) hippocampal cornu ammonis region 1, but not in the thalamus or occipital lobes from the same brains. The expression of key enzymes in NPD1 biosynthesis, cytosolic phospholipase A2 and 15-lipoxygenase, was altered in AD hippocampus. NPD1 repressed Aβ42-triggered activation of proinflammatory genes while upregulating the antiapoptotic genes encoding Bcl-2, Bcl-xl, and Bfl-1(A1). Soluble amyloid precursor protein-α stimulated NPD1 biosynthesis from DHA. These results indicate that NPD1 promotes brain cell survival via the induction of antiapoptotic and neuroprotective gene-expression programs that suppress Aβ42-induced neurotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC1199531  PMID: 16151530
9.  DHA dietary supplementation enhances the effects of exercise on synaptic plasticity and cognition 
Neuroscience  2008;155(3):751-759.
Omega-3 fatty acids (i.e., docosahexaenoic acid; DHA), similar to exercise, improve cognitive function, promote neuroplasticity, and protect against neurological lesion. In this study, we investigated a possible synergistic action between DHA dietary supplementation and voluntary exercise on modulating synaptic plasticity and cognition. Rats received DHA dietary supplementation (1.25% DHA) with or without voluntary exercise for 12 days. We found that the DHA-enriched diet significantly increased spatial learning ability, and these effects were enhanced by exercise. The DHA-enriched diet increased levels of pro-BDNF and mature BDNF, whereas the additional application of exercise boosted the levels of both. Furthermore, the levels of the activated forms of CREB and synapsin I were incremented by the DHA-enriched diet with greater elevation by the concurrent application of exercise. While the DHA diet reduced hippocampal oxidized protein levels, a combination of a DHA diet and exercise resulted in a greater reduction rate. The levels of activated forms of hippocampal Akt and CaMKII were increased by the DHA-enriched diet, and with even greater elevation by a combination of diet and exercise. Akt and CaMKII signaling are crucial step by which BDNF exerts its action on synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. These results indicate that the DHA diet enhance the effects of exercise on cognition and BDNF-related synaptic plasticity, a capacity that may be used to promote mental health and reduce risk of neurological disorders.
PMCID: PMC3208643  PMID: 18620024
DHA; exercise; BDNF; omega-3 fatty acids; cognition
10.  Docosahexaenoic Acid and the Aging Brain123 
The Journal of nutrition  2008;138(12):2510-2514.
The dietary essential PUFA docosahexaenoic acid [DHA; 22:6(n-3)] is a critical contributor to cell structure and function in the nervous system, and deficits in DHA abundance are associated with cognitive decline during aging and in neurodegenerative disease. Recent studies underscore the importance of DHA-derived neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1) in the homeostatic regulation of brain cell survival and repair involving neurotrophic, antiapoptotic and antiinflammatory signaling. Emerging evidence suggests that NPD1 synthesis is activated by growth factors and neurotrophins. Evolving research indicates that NPD1 has important determinant and regulatory interactions with the molecular-genetic mechanisms affecting b-amyloid precursor protein (bAPP) and amyloid beta (Ab) peptide neurobiology. Deficits in DHA or its peroxidation appear to contribute to inflammatory signaling, apoptosis, and neuronal dysfunction in Alzheimer disease (AD), a common and progressive age-related neurological disorder unique to structures and processes of the human brain. This article briefly reviews our current understanding of the interactions of DHA and NPD1 on bAPP processing and Ab peptide signaling and how this contributes to oxidative and pathogenic processes characteristic of aging and AD pathology.
PMCID: PMC2666388  PMID: 19022980
11.  Cannabinoid receptor-dependent and -independent anti-proliferative effects of omega-3 ethanolamides in androgen receptor-positive and -negative prostate cancer cell lines 
Carcinogenesis  2010;31(9):1584-1591.
The omega-3 fatty acid ethanolamides, docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide (DHEA) and eicosapentaenoyl ethanolamide (EPEA), displayed greater anti-proliferative potency than their parent omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), in LNCaP and PC3 prostate cancer cells. DHEA and EPEA activated cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors in vitro with significant potency, suggesting that they are endocannabinoids. Both LNCaP and PC3 cells expressed CB1 and CB2 receptors, and the CB1- and CB2-selective antagonists, AM281 and AM630, administered separately or together, reduced the anti-proliferative potencies of EPEA and EPA but not of DHEA or DHA in PC3 cells and of EPA but not of EPEA, DHEA or DHA in LNCaP cells. Even so, EPEA and EPA may not have inhibited PC3 or LNCaP cell proliferation via cannabinoid receptors since the anti-proliferative potency of EPEA was well below the potency it displayed as a CB1 or CB2 receptor agonist. Indeed, these receptors may mediate a protective effect because the anti-proliferative potency of DHEA in LNCaP and PC3 cells was increased by separate or combined administration of AM281 and AM630. The anandamide-metabolizing enzyme, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), was highly expressed in LNCaP but not PC3 cells. Evidence was obtained that FAAH metabolizes EPEA and DHEA and that the anti-proliferative potencies of these ethanolamides in LNCaP cells can be enhanced by inhibiting this enzyme. Our findings suggest that the expression of cannabinoid receptors and of FAAH in some tumour cells could well influence the effectiveness of DHA and EPA or their ethanolamide derivatives as anticancer agents.
PMCID: PMC2930808  PMID: 20660502
12.  Oral Supplementation with Docosahexaenoic Acid and Uridine-5’-Monophosphate Increases Dendritic Spine Density in Adult Gerbil Hippocampus 
Brain research  2007;1182:50-59.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, is an essential component of membrane phosphatides and has been implicated in cognitive functions. Low levels of circulating or brain DHA are associated with various neurocognitive disorders including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), while laboratory animals, including animal models of AD, can exhibit improved cognitive ability with a diet enriched in DHA. Various cellular mechanisms have been proposed for DHA’s behavioral effects, including increases in cellular membrane fluidity, promotion of neurite extension, and inhibition of apoptosis. However, there is little direct evidence that DHA affects synaptic structure in living animals. Here we show that oral supplementation with DHA substantially increases the number of dendritic spines in adult gerbil hippocampus, particularly when animals are co-supplemented with a uridine source, uridine-5’-monophosphate (UMP), which increases brain levels of the rate-limiting phosphatide precursor CTP. The increase in dendritic spines (> 30%) is accompanied by parallel increases in membrane phosphatides, and in pre- and post-synaptic proteins within the hippocampus. Hence oral DHA may promote neuronal membrane synthesis to increase the number of synapses, particularly when co-administered with UMP. Our findings provide a possible explanation for the effects of DHA on behavior and also suggest a strategy to treat cognitive disorders resulting from synapse loss.
PMCID: PMC2140951  PMID: 17950710
docosahexaenoic acid; uridine; membrane synthesis; spine formation; synaptogenesis; phosphatides
13.  DHA diet reduces AD pathology in young APPswe/PS1ΔE9 transgenic mice: Possible Gender Effects 
Journal of neuroscience research  2010;88(5):1026-1040.
Epidemiological and clinical trial findings suggest that consumption of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) lowers the risk of Alzhemier’s disease (AD). We examined the effects of short-term (3 months) DHA enriched diet on plaque deposition and synaptic deficts in forebrain of young APPswe/PS1ΔE9 transgenic (tg) and non-transgenic (ntg) mice. Gas chromatography revealed a significant increase in DHA concomitant with a decrease of arachidonic acid in both brain and liver in mice fed with DHA. Female tg mice consumed relatively more food daily than ntg female mice, independent of diet. Plaque load was significantly reduced in the cortex, ventral hippocampus and striatum of female APPswe/PS1ΔE9 tg mice on DHA diet compared to female tg mice on control diet. LR11 levels were unchanged in mice on DHA. Moreover drebrin levels were significantly increased in the hippocampus of tg mice on the DHA diet. Finally, in vitro DHA treatment prevented amyloid toxicity in cell cultures. Our findings support the concept that increased DHA consumption may play and important role in preventing brain insults in AD.
PMCID: PMC3118087  PMID: 19859965
n-3 fatty acids; Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid; transgenics; drebrin
14.  Dose Response Effects of Dermally applied Diethanolamine on Neurogenesis in Fetal Mouse Hippocampus and Potential Exposure of Humans 
Toxicological Sciences  2008;107(1):220-226.
Diethanolamine (DEA) is a common ingredient of personal care products. Dermal administration of DEA diminishes hepatic stores of the essential nutrient choline and alters brain development. We previously reported that 80 mg/kg/day of DEA during pregnancy in mice reduced neurogenesis and increased apoptosis in the fetal hippocampus. This study was designed to establish the dose-response relationships for this effect of DEA. Timed-pregnant C57BL/6 mouse dams were dosed dermally from gestation day 7–17 with DEA at 0 (controls), 5, 40, 60, and 80 mg/kg body/day. Fetuses (embryonic day 17 [E17]) from dams treated dermally with 80 mg/kg body/day DEA had decreased neural progenitor cell mitosis at the ventricular surface of the ventricular zone (hippocampus, 54.1 ± 5.5%; cortex, 58.9 ± 6.8%; compared to controls; p < 0.01). Also, this dose of DEA to dams increased rates of apoptosis in E17 fetal hippocampus (to 177.2 ± 21.5% of control; measured using activated caspase-3; p < 0.01). This dose of DEA resulted in accumulation of DEA and its metabolites in liver and in plasma. At doses of DEA less than 80 mg/kg body/day to dams, there were no differences between treated and control groups. In a small group of human subjects, dermal treatment for 1 month with a commercially available skin lotion containing 1.8 mg DEA per gram resulted in detectable plasma concentrations of DEA and dimethyldiethanolamine, but these were far below those concentrations associated with perturbed brain development in the mouse.
PMCID: PMC2638646  PMID: 18948303
diethanolamine; choline; pregnancy; brain development; mouse; hippocampus
15.  Does docosahexaenoic acid supplementation in term infants enhance neurocognitive functioning in infancy? 
The proposal that dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) enhances neurocognitive functioning in term infants is controversial. Theoretical evidence, laboratory research and human epidemiological studies have convincingly demonstrated that DHA deficiency can negatively impact neurocognitive development. However, the results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of DHA supplementation in human term-born infants have been inconsistent. This article will (i) discuss the role of DHA in the human diet, (ii) explore the physiological mechanisms by which DHA plausibly influences neurocognitive capacity, and (iii) seek to characterize the optimal intake of DHA during infancy for neurocognitive functioning, based on existing research that has been undertaken in developed countries (specifically, within Australia). The major observational studies and RCTs that have examined dietary DHA in human infants and animals are presented, and we consider suggestions that DHA requirements vary across individuals according to genetic profile. It is important that the current evidence concerning DHA supplementation is carefully evaluated so that appropriate recommendations can be made and future directions of research can be strategically planned.
PMCID: PMC3834239  PMID: 24312040
neurocognitive; development; n-3 LC-PUFA; DHA; infant
16.  Neutrophil unsaturated fatty acid release by GM-CSF is impaired in cystic fibrosis 
Dysregulated inflammation in cystic fibrosis (CF) is attributed to an altered production of inflammatory mediators derived from polyunsaturated lipids. In comparison to the arachidonic acid (AA) cascade, little is known about the modulation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) membrane release. We compared data on neutrophil DHA- and AA- release from both control (CT) and patients with CF using [3H]AA or [14C]DHA as a markers for, respectively, AA and DHA- release. Granulocyte-macrophage-colony stimulating factor stimulated DHA release from CT, but not CF, neutrophils. Comparison showed that both [14C]DHA and [3H]AA liberated after stimulation was higher in CT than in CF neutrophils. Since bioactive mediators derived from DHA are resolving factors and those derived from AA are both pro- and anti- inflammatory, these results suggest that CF is associated with a reduction of the release of PUFA-precursors of lipooxygenated resolving mediators. This leads to the hypothesis that defects in the resolving factors production could contribute to the inflammatory dysregulated processes in CF. Furthermore, the methodology used may help to improve knowledge on the regulation and resolution of inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2988788  PMID: 21059219
17.  Neuroprotectin D1 Synthesis and Corneal Nerve Regeneration after Experimental Surgery and Treatment with PEDF plus DHA 
This study revealed that pigment epithelial–derived growth factor in combination with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) enhances the regeneration of corneal nerves damaged after surgery.
This study was conducted to define whether pigment epithelial–derived growth factor (PEDF), together with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), enhances the synthesis of neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1) and the regeneration of corneal nerves damaged after surgery.
Corneal stromal dissection was performed in the left eyes of adult New Zealand rabbits treated with DHA+PEDF, PEDF, or DHA for 6 weeks. In vivo confocal images of the corneas were obtained at 2, 4, and 8 weeks, and nerve areas were quantified. At 8 weeks after treatment, corneas were stained with tubulin βIII antibody, and the epithelial nerve area and the sub-basal and stromal nerve plexus were quantified. At 1 week and 2 weeks after treatment, lipids were extracted from corneas, and the synthesis of NPD1 was analyzed by mass spectrometry. Epithelial cell density was quantified by confocal microscopy 8 weeks after surgery.
In vivo confocal images at 2 and 4 weeks after surgery showed a 2.5-fold increase in corneal nerve area in PEDF+DHA–treated animals compared with control animals. Increased nerve surface areas in epithelia, subepithelia, and stroma were observed in rabbits treated for 8 weeks with PEDF+DHA. PEDF or DHA alone did not produce a significant increase. NPD1 synthesis peaked at 1 week and was four times higher in the PEDF+DHA–treated group than in the controls.
PEDF+DHA promotes the regeneration of corneal nerves. Neurotrophin-mediated NPD1 synthesis is suggested to precede nerve regeneration by demonstration of its accumulation upon addition of DHA and PEDF at earlier time points. Therefore, this signaling mechanism upregulates corneal nerve regeneration and may be targeted in neurotrophic keratitis, dry eye after refractive surgery, and other corneal diseases.
PMCID: PMC2868452  PMID: 19797230
18.  N-3 (Omega-3) Fatty Acids in Postpartum Depression: Implications for Prevention and Treatment 
A growing body of clinical and epidemiological evidence suggests that low dietary intake and/or tissue levels of n-3 (omega-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are associated with postpartum depression. Low tissue levels of n-3 PUFAs, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are reported in patients with either postpartum or nonpuerperal depression. Moreover, the physiological demands of pregnancy and lactation put childbearing women at particular risk of experiencing a loss of DHA from tissues including the brain, especially in individuals with inadequate dietary n-3 PUFA intake or suboptimal metabolic capabilities. Animal studies indicate that decreased brain DHA in postpartum females leads to several depression-associated neurobiological changes including decreased hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor and augmented hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses to stress. Taken together, these findings support a role for decreased brain n-3 PUFAs in the multifactorial etiology of depression, particularly postpartum depression. These findings, and their implications for research and clinical practice, are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2989696  PMID: 21151517
19.  Docosahexaenoic Acid Inhibits Helicobacter pylori Growth In Vitro and Mice Gastric Mucosa Colonization 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35072.
H. pylori drug-resistant strains and non-compliance to therapy are the major causes of H. pylori eradication failure. For some bacterial species it has been demonstrated that fatty acids have a growth inhibitory effect. Our main aim was to assess the ability of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to inhibit H. pylori growth both in vitro and in a mouse model. The effectiveness of standard therapy (ST) in combination with DHA on H. pylori eradication and recurrence prevention success was also investigated. The effects of DHA on H. pylori growth were analyzed in an in vitro dose-response study and n in vivo model. We analized the ability of H. pylori to colonize mice gastric mucosa following DHA, ST or a combination of both treatments. Our data demonstrate that DHA decreases H. pylori growth in vitro in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, DHA inhibits H. pylori gastric colonization in vivo as well as decreases mouse gastric mucosa inflammation. Addition of DHA to ST was also associated with lower H. pylori infection recurrence in the mouse model. In conclusion, DHA is an inhibitor of H. pylori growth and its ability to colonize mouse stomach. DHA treatment is also associated with a lower recurrence of H. pylori infection in combination with ST. These observations pave the way to consider DHA as an adjunct agent in H. pylori eradication treatment.
PMCID: PMC3328494  PMID: 22529974
20.  Maternal DHA levels and Toddler Free-Play Attention 
Developmental neuropsychology  2009;34(2):159-174.
We investigated the relationship between maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels at birth and toddler free-play attention in the second year. Toddler free-play attention was assessed at 12 and 18 months, and maternal erythrocyte (red-blood cell; RBC) phospholipid DHA (percentage of total fatty acids) was measured from mothers at delivery. Overall, higher maternal DHA status at birth was associated with enhanced attentional functioning during the second year. Toddlers whose mothers had high DHA at birth exhibited more total looking and fewer episodes of inattention during free-play than did toddlers whose mothers had low DHA at birth. Analyses also provided further information on changes in attention during toddlerhood. These findings are consistent with evidence suggesting a link between DHA and cognitive development in infancy and early childhood.
PMCID: PMC3752039  PMID: 19267293
21.  Exercise contributes to the effects of DHA dietary supplementation by acting on membrane-related synaptic systems 
Brain research  2009;1341C:32-40.
Dietary omega-3 fatty acid (i.e. docosohexaenoic acid (DHA)) and exercise are gaining recognition for supporting brain function under normal and challenging conditions. Here we evaluate the possibility that the interaction of DHA and exercise can involve specific elements of the synaptic plasma membrane. We found that voluntary exercise potentiated the effects of a 12-day DHA dietary supplementation regimen on increasing the levels of syntaxin 3 (STX-3) and the growth-associated protein (GAP-43) in the adult rat hippocampus region. STX-3 is a synaptic membrane-bound protein involved in the effects of DHA on membrane expansion. The DHA diet and exercise also elevated levels of the NMDA receptor subunit NR2B, which is important for synaptic function underlying learning and memory. The actions of exercise and DHA dietary supplementation reflected on enhanced learning performance in the Morris water maze as learning ability was associated with higher levels of STX-3 and NR2B. The overall findings reveal a mechanism by which exercise can interact with the function of DHA dietary enrichment to elevate the capacity of the adult brain for axonal growth, synaptic plasticity, and cognitive function.
PMCID: PMC2884051  PMID: 19446534
Omega-3 fatty acid; Voluntary exercise; Syntaxin; Synaptic membrane; Hippocampus
22.  Docosahexaenoic Acid Protects from Dendritic Pathology in an Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model 
Neuron  2004;43(5):633-645.
Learning and memory depend on dendritic spine actin assembly and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential n-3 (omega-3) polyunsaturated fatty acid (PFA). High DHA consumption is associated with reduced Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk, yet mechanisms and therapeutic potential remain elusive. Here, we report that reduction of dietary n-3 PFA in an AD mouse model resulted in 80%–90% losses of the p85α subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and the postsynaptic actin-regulating protein drebrin, as in AD brain. The loss of postsynaptic proteins was associated with increased oxidation, without concomitant neuron or pre-synaptic protein loss. N-3 PFA depletion increased caspase-cleaved actin, which was localized in dendrites ultrastructurally. Treatment of n-3 PFA-restricted mice with DHA protected against these effects and behavioral deficits and increased antiapoptotic BAD phosphorylation. Since n-3 PFAs are essential for p85-mediated CNS insulin signaling and selective protection of postsynaptic proteins, these findings have implications for neurodegenerative diseases where synaptic loss is critical, especially AD.
PMCID: PMC2442162  PMID: 15339646
23.  Toll-like receptor 7 stimulates production of specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators and promotes resolution of airway inflammation 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2013;5(5):762-775.
Although specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) biosynthesized from polyunsaturated fatty acids are critical for the resolution of acute inflammation, the molecules and pathways that induce their production remain elusive. Here, we show that TLR7, a receptor recognizing viral ssRNA and damaged self-RNA, mobilizes the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-derived biosynthetic pathways that lead to the generation of D-series SPMs. In mouse macrophages and human monocytes, TLR7 activation triggered production of DHA-derived monohydroxy metabolome markers and generation of protectin D1 (PD1) and resolvin D1 (RvD1). In mouse allergic airway inflammation, TLR7 activation enhanced production of DHA-derived SPMs including PD1 and accelerated the catabasis of Th2-mediated inflammation. D-series SPMs were critical for TLR7-mediated resolution of airway inflammation as this effect was lost in Alox15−/− mice, while resolution was enhanced after local administration of PD1 or RvD1. Together, our findings reveal a new previously unsuspected role of TLR7 in the generation of D-series SPMs and the resolution of allergic airway inflammation. They also identify TLR stimulation as a new approach to drive SPMs and resolution of inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC3662318  PMID: 23584892
airway inflammation; polyunsaturated fatty acid; resolution of inflammation; specialized pro-resolving mediator; Toll-like receptor
24.  The Δ4-desaturation pathway for DHA biosynthesis is operative in the human species: Differences between normal controls and children with the Zellweger syndrome 
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6ω3) is a fundamental component of cell membranes, especially in the brain and retina. In the experimental animal, DHA deficiency leads to suboptimal neurological performance and visual deficiencies. Children with the Zellweger syndrome (ZS) have a profound DHA deficiency and symptoms that can be attributed to their extremely low DHA levels. These children seem to have a metabolic defect in DHA biosynthesis, which has never been totally elucidated. Treatment with DHA ethyl ester greatly improves these patients, but if we could normalize their endogenous DHA production we could get additional benefits. We examined whether DHA biosynthesis by Δ4-desaturation could be enhanced in the human species by transfecting the enzyme, and if this could normalize the DHA levels in cells from ZS patients.
We showed that the Δ4-desaturase gene (Fad4) from Thraustochytrium sp, which can be expressed by heterologous transfection in other plant and yeast cells, can also be transfected into human lymphocytes, and that it expresses the enzyme (FAD4, Δ4-desaturase) by producing DHA from direct Δ4-desaturation of 22:5ω3. We also found that the other substrate for Δ4-desaturase, 22:4ω6, was parallely desaturated to 22:5ω6.
The present "in vitro" study demonstrates that Δ4-desaturase can be transfected into human cells and synthesize DHA (as well as 22:5ω6, DPA) from 22:5ω3 and 22:4ω6, respectively, by putative Δ4-desaturation. Even if this pathway may not be the physiological route for DHA biosynthesis "in vivo", the present study opens new perspectives for the treatment of patients within the ZS spectrum.
PMCID: PMC2949860  PMID: 20828389
25.  Docosahexaenoic acid induces autophagy through p53/AMPK/mTOR signaling and promotes apoptosis in human cancer cells harboring wild-type p53 
Autophagy  2011;7(11):1348-1358.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has been reported to induce tumor cell death by apoptosis. However, little is known about the effects of DHA on autophagy, another complex well-programmed process characterized by the sequestration of cytoplasmic material within autophagosomes. Here we show that DHA increased both the level of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 and the number of autophagic vacuoles without impairing autophagic vesicle turnover, indicating that DHA induces not only apoptosis but also autophagy. We also observed that DHA-induced autophagy was accompanied by p53 loss. Inhibition of p53 increased DHA-induced autophagy and prevention of p53 degradation significantly led to the attenuation of DHA-induced autophagy, suggesting that DHA-induced autophagy is mediated by p53. Further experiments showed that the mechanism of DHA-induced autophagy associated with p53 attenuation involved an increase in the active form of AMP-activated protein kinase and a decrease in the activity of mammalian target of rapamycin. In addition, compelling evidence for the interplay between autophagy and apoptosis induced by DHA is supported by the findings that autophagy inhibition suppressed apoptosis and further autophagy induction enhanced apoptosis in response to DHA treatment. Overall, our results demonstrate that autophagy contributes to the cytotoxicity of DHA in cancer cells harboring wild-type p53.
PMCID: PMC3242799  PMID: 21811093
DHA; autophagy; apoptosis; p53; cancer; mTOR; AMPK; p27

Results 1-25 (548688)