Brain and Central Nervous System

Positive Effects of DHA in Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury results in 53,000 deaths in the U.S. every year (Figure), with nearly twice that number suffering permanent disability, including diminished cognitive ability. Treatments with long-term benefits are few and of limited effectiveness.  Progesterone may have neurological benefits and is in a Phase III clinical trial for patients with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury. Attention has also turned to the potential effects of DHA in preventing and ameliorating traumatic brain and spinal cord injury. DHA involvement in neuronal membrane structure and function, learning and memory, as well as neuroplasticity…

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Is Suicide in US Military Personnel Related to Low DHA Status?

Suicide is a global problem that is more prevalent among adolescents, the elderly, war veterans and active-duty military personnel. The latter are of particular concern regarding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, among whom suicide is the second leading cause of death (13.1%) compared with the ninth rank for the general US adult population (1.8%). Up to 2009, the number of suicides exceeded the number of combat deaths in the US military. Although a past attempted suicide is a strong predictor of suicide, other conditions, such as mental disorders, including depressive…

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Perinatal Omega-3 Deficiency May Condition Future Sensitivity to Food Reward and Impaired Energy Expenditure

This article at a glance Is it possible that the quality of food during gestation and around birth sets the stage for the eating behaviour of the offspring when they become adults? This study reports that in mice a perinatal deficiency in dietary omega-3 fatty acids has long-lasting effects into adulthood, enhancing the brain circuits for reward, enhancing the anxiety state and reducing spontaneous activity. The results provide experimental support for the hypothesis that dietary omega-3 LCPUFA deficiency during pregnancy increases the motivation to eat easily palatable foods that may…

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Improving the Response Rate in Migraine Headache Attacks

This article at a glance This study addressed the potential effectiveness of daily EPA/DHA for migraine headaches in adults with chronic migraine also taking low-dose amitriptyline, a drug used for migraine prevention. Participants taking both EPA/DHA and amitriptyline for 2 months reported a major reduction in the frequency of headache attacks. The results of this study warrant new studies to confirm the significant effect of the EPA/DHA intervention.   Migraine is one of the most common disorders of the central nervous system. Migraine manifests most typically as recurrent headaches that…

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DHA – Are Memories Made of This?

This article at a glance The hippocampal-prefrontal cortex (H-PFC) pathway is a neuronal circuit that is central to integrating working memory with contextual information, facilitating executive function, such as making decisions. A recent neuroscience study in the rat reports that enzymatic conversion of DHA may underlie the regulation of synaptic plasticity in the H-PFC pathway. Enzymatically-generated DHA-derived lipid mediators, such as resolvin D1, are suggested to function as key regulators of long-term potentiation of hippocampul input to the cortex, allowing memory formation. The research contributes to our understanding of how…

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Maternal Plasma Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Concentrations Increase at the Critical Time of Neural Tube Closure

  Barbara J Meyer (University of Wollongong, Australia) Dilys J Freeman (University of Glasgow, UK)   Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) metabolism DHA is an omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 LCPUFA) containing 22 carbons and 6 carbon to carbon double bonds denoted as 22:6n-3. It is an n-3 fatty acid because the first carbon to carbon double bond is on the third carbon from the methyl end of the fatty acid chain: hence the terminology n minus 3 (n-3) because you need to count backwards…

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Failure to Replicate Findings on Omega-3 LCPUFA Supplementation on the Transition to Psychotic Disorder in Individuals at Ultra-High Risk

This article at a glance Psychotic disorders encompass serious psychiatric disorders, manifesting themselves in the altered perception of reality, such as delusions or hallucinations, disorganized or bizarre behaviors and “negative” symptoms, which include flatness of emotion and interpersonal relations and amotivation. Psychotic disorders, when chronic, are characterized by low functioning and a poor prognosis. A previous study demonstrated a lowered risk of progression of illness for first episode onset of psychosis in young adults. This study aimed to build upon these findings in a multicentre study of individuals at ultra-high…

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Identifying People with Depressive Symptoms that May Benefit Most from Omega-3 Fatty Acid Consumption

This article at a glance In an observational study of a cohort of Puerto Ricans, only those individuals with the highest level of urinary 8-hydroxy-2´-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), a marker of oxidative stress, showed an inverse relationship between the omega-3 index (combined EPA and DHA as percentage of red blood cell fatty acids) and depressive symptoms. The study suggests that it may be possible to better identify people who may benefit most from the antidepressant effect of increased omega-3 fatty acid consumption.   Evidence is accumulating to support the use of EPA-rich…

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On the Contribution of Plasma Lysophospholipid and Non-Esterified Docosahexaenoic Acid to the Brain

Richard P. Bazinet Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair in Brain Lipid Metabolism Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto FitzGerald Building, 150 College Street, Room 306 Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3E2 Email – richard.bazinet@utoronto.ca   The brain has a lot of docosahexaenoic acid The brain is particularly enriched with the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) while being almost devoid of other omega-3 PUFA, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Within the brain DHA makes up around 10% of the total fatty acids and about 50%…

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Omega-3 LCPUFA Status may Determine the Effectiveness of Supplemental B-Vitamin Intake in Decreasing the Rate of Cognitive Decline in Elderly People

This article at a glance Alzheimer’s Disease is an accelerated form of age-related cognitive decline characterized by brain atrophy. This study has uncovered a previously unknown association between higher omega-3 LCPUFA status and the potential for inhibition by supplemental B-vitamin intake of progressive brain atrophy in mild cognitive impairment in elderly people. The results of this study set the stage for controlled trials that will be able to confirm if omega-3 LCPUFA sufficiency is determining the potential for inhibition of cognitive decline by the combination of vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12…

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