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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009 Jan;202(1-3):37-51. doi: 10.1007/s00213-008-1351-0. Epub 2008 Oct 14.

Phospholipase A2 activation as a therapeutic approach for cognitive enhancement in early-stage Alzheimer disease.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neuroscience (LIM-27), Department and Institute of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo, Rua Dr. Ovídio Pires de Campos 785, 05403-010 São Paulo, SP, Brazil.



Alzheimer disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly and has no known cure. Evidence suggests that reduced activity of specific subtypes of intracellular phospholipases A2 (cPLA2 and iPLA2) is an early event in AD and may contribute to memory impairment and neuropathology in the disease.


The objective of this study was to review the literature focusing on the therapeutic role of PLA2 stimulation by cognitive training and positive modulators, or of supplementation with arachidonic acid (PLA2 product) in facilitating memory function and synaptic transmission and plasticity in either research animals or human subjects.


MEDLINE database was searched (no date restrictions) for published articles using the keywords Alzheimer disease (mild, moderate, severe), mild cognitive impairment, healthy elderly, rats, mice, phospholipase A(2), phospholipid metabolism, phosphatidylcholine, arachidonic acid, cognitive training, learning, memory, long-term potentiation, protein kinases, dietary lipid compounds, cell proliferation, neurogenesis, and neuritogenesis. Reference lists of the identified articles were checked to select additional studies of interest.


Overall, the data suggest that PLA2 activation is induced in the healthy brain during learning and memory. Furthermore, learning seems to regulate endogenous neurogenesis, which has been observed in AD brains. Finally, PLA2 appears to be implicated in homeostatic processes related to neurite outgrowth and differentiation in both neurodevelopmental processes and response to neuronal injury.


The use of positive modulators of PLA2 (especially of cPLA2 and iPLA2) or supplementation with dietary lipid compounds (e.g., arachidonic acid) in combination with cognitive training could be a valuable therapeutic strategy for cognitive enhancement in early-stage AD.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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