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J Neurochem. 1999 Mar;72(3):1133-8.

Antioxidative effects of docosahexaenoic acid in the cerebrum versus cerebellum and brainstem of aged hypercholesterolemic rats.

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Department of Physiology, Shimane Medical University, Izumo, Japan.


Female Wistar rats (100 weeks old) were divided into two groups; one group was fed a high-cholesterol diet (HC) and the other a high-cholesterol diet plus docosahexaenoic acid (HC-fed DHA rats). Fatty acid concentrations in brain tissues were analyzed by gas chromatography. In the HC-fed DHA rats, brain catalase (CAT), GSH, and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) increased in the cerebrum but not in the brainstem or cerebellum. The rate of increase was 23.0% for CAT, 24.5% for GSH, and 26.3% for GPx compared with that in the HC animals (p < 0.05). In the cerebrum of the HC-fed DHA rats, CAT and GPx increased, with an increase in the ratio of DHA to arachidonic acid. The cerebrum, unlike the other areas of the brain, seems to be more sensitive to DHA in stimulating CAT and GPx. We suggest that DHA plays an important role in inducing an antioxidative defense against active oxygen by enhancing the cerebral activities of CAT, GPx, and GSH.

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