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FEBS Lett. 2010 Feb 5;584(3):612-8. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2009.12.013. Epub 2009 Dec 17.

The omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, decreases neuronal cell death in association with altered zinc transport.

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  • 1School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia.


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the major polyunsaturated fatty acid in neuronal cell membranes. We hypothesize that DHA induces a decrease in neuronal cell death through reduced ZnT3 expression and zinc uptake. Exposure of M17 cells to DHA-deficient medium increased the levels of active caspase-3, relative to levels in DHA-replete cells, confirming the adverse effects of DHA deficiency in promoting neuronal cell death. In DHA-treated M17 cells, zinc uptake was 65% less and ZnT3 mRNA and protein levels were reduced in comparison with DHA-depleted cells. We propose that the neuroprotective function of DHA is exerted through a reduction in cellular zinc levels that in turn inhibits apoptosis.

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