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Mol Neurobiol. 2016 Jul;53(5):3205-3215. doi: 10.1007/s12035-015-9228-9. Epub 2015 Jun 4.

Efficient Docosahexaenoic Acid Uptake by the Brain from a Structured Phospholipid.

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INSERM UMR 1060, CarMeN laboratory, IMBL/INSA-Lyon, Université de Lyon, F-69621, Villeurbanne, France.
Université d'Artois, EA2465, Lens, France.
INRA UMR 203, BF2I laboratory, INSA-Lyon, Université de Lyon, F-69621, Villeurbanne, France.
Polaris, 29170, Pleuven, France.
INSERM UMR 1060, CarMeN laboratory, IMBL/INSA-Lyon, Université de Lyon, F-69621, Villeurbanne, France.


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the main essential omega-3 fatty acid in brain tissues required for normal brain development and function. An alteration of brain DHA in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's is observed. Targeted intake of DHA to the brain could compensate for these deficiencies. Blood DHA is transported across the blood-brain barrier more efficiently when esterified at the sn-2 position of lyso-phosphatidylcholine. We used a structured phosphatidylcholine to mimic 2-docosahexaenoyl-lysoPC (lysoPC-DHA), named AceDoPC (1-acetyl,2-docosahexaenoyl-glycerophosphocholine), that may be considered as a stabilized form of the physiological lysoPC-DHA and that is neuroprotective in experimental ischemic stroke. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether AceDoPC is a relevant delivery form of DHA to the brain in comparison with other forms of the fatty acid. By combining in vitro and in vivo experiments, our findings report for the first time that AceDoPC is a privileged and specific carrier of DHA to the brain, when compared with DHA-containing PC and non-esterified DHA. We also show that AceDoPC was hydrolyzed, in part, into lysoPC-DHA. Ex vivo autoradiography of rat brain reveals that DHA from AceDoPC was localized in specific brain regions playing key roles in memory, thoughts, and cognitive functions. Finally, using molecular modeling approaches, we demonstrate that electrostatic and lipophilic potentials are distributed very similarly at the surfaces of AceDoPC and lysoPC-DHA. Our findings identify AceDoPC as an efficient way to specifically target DHA to the brain, which would allow potential preventive and therapeutic approaches for neurological diseases.


Blood–brain barrier; Brain; Docosahexaenoic acid; Lyso-phosphatidylcholine; Transport

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