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Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2013 Jan;88(1):105-14. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2012.05.006. Epub 2012 Jun 22.

Omega-3 fatty acids in neurodegenerative diseases: focus on mitochondria.

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Department of Pharmacology, Biocenter, Campus Riedberg, Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Biocentre Geb. N260, R.1.09, Max-von-Laue Str. 9, D-60438 Frankfurt, Germany.


Mitochondrial dysfunction represents a common early pathological event in brain aging and in neurodegenerative diseases, e.g., in Alzheimer's (AD), Parkinson's (PD), and Huntington's disease (HD), as well as in ischemic stroke. In vivo and ex vivo experiments using animal models of aging and AD, PD, and HD mainly showed improvement of mitochondrial function after treatment with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Thereby, PUFA are particular beneficial in animals treated with mitochondria targeting toxins. However, DHA showed adverse effects in a transgenic PD mouse model and it is not clear if a diet high or low in PUFA might provide neuroprotective effects in PD. Post-treatment with PUFA revealed conflicting results in ischemic animal models, but intravenous administered DHA provided neuroprotective efficacy after acute occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. In summary, the majority of preclinical data indicate beneficial effects of n-3 PUFA in neurodegenerative diseases, whereas most controlled clinical trials did not meet the expectations. Because of the high half-life of DHA in the human brain clinical studies may have to be initiated much earlier and have to last much longer to be more efficacious.

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