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Neuroscience. 2002;109(2):231-41.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids induce ischemic and epileptic tolerance.

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Institut de Pharmacologie Mol├ęculaire et Cellulaire, CNRS, UMR6097, 660, route des Lucioles, Sophia Antipolis, 06560 Valbonne, France.


The findings reported in this work show that pretreatment with polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly linolenic acid, present in vegetable oils, can provide a potent tolerance against neurodegeneration in two models of neuronal death-generating treatments such as kainic acid injection and global ischemia. Rats were injected i.v. with 500 nmol/kg of linolenic acid as long as 3 days prior to 6 min global ischemia or received an injection of linolenic acid as long as 3 days prior to a dose of 7.5 mg/kg kainic acid. Neuronal degeneration, assessed by analysis of neuronal density on Cresyl Violet-stained hippocampal sections, was significantly reduced in linolenic acid-treated rats (94-85% of cell survival in the ischemic model and 99-79% of cell survival in the epileptic model in respective CA1 and CA3 subfields). The neuroprotection observed following the injection of linolenic acid 3 days prior to induction of a severe ischemic or epileptic challenge was associated with the induction of the neuroprotective HSP70 heat shock protein within the time window of protection. The injection of 500 nmol/kg of linolenic acid induced a maximal HSP70 expression of 387% at 72 h. In contrast, the overexpression of one well-known protein inducer of neuronal cell death, Bax, which is induced by both ischemic and kainic acid-induced epileptic insults, was prevented by linolenic acid in the 3-day window of protection. These results strengthen the idea of an interesting potential therapeutical value of polyunsaturated fatty acids in neuronal protection.

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