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J Neurosci. 2015 Sep 16;35(37):12733-52. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0605-15.2015.

A Single Bolus of Docosahexaenoic Acid Promotes Neuroplastic Changes in the Innervation of Spinal Cord Interneurons and Motor Neurons and Improves Functional Recovery after Spinal Cord Injury.

Author information

1
Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Blizard Institute, London, E1 2AT, United Kingdom, and Chang Gung Medical College and University, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Department of Neurosurgery, Linkou, Taiwan, 33305.
2
Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Blizard Institute, London, E1 2AT, United Kingdom, and.
3
Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Blizard Institute, London, E1 2AT, United Kingdom, and a.t.michael-titus@qmul.ac.uk.

Abstract

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid that is essential in brain development and has structural and signaling roles. Acute DHA administration is neuroprotective and promotes functional recovery in animal models of adult spinal cord injury (SCI). However, the mechanisms underlying this recovery have not been fully characterized. Here we investigated the effects of an acute intravenous bolus of DHA delivered after SCI and characterized DHA-induced neuroplasticity within the adult injured spinal cord. We found robust sprouting of uninjured corticospinal and serotonergic fibers in a rat cervical hemisection SCI model. A mouse pyramidotomy model was used to confirm that this robust sprouting was not species or injury model specific. Furthermore, we demonstrated that corticospinal fibers sprouting to the denervated side of the cord following pyramidotomy contact V2a interneurons. We also demonstrated increased serotonin fibers and synaptophysin in direct contact with motor neurons. DHA also increased synaptophysin in rat cortical cell cultures. A reduction in phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) has been shown to be involved in axonal regeneration and synaptic plasticity. We showed that DHA significantly upregulates miR-21 and downregulates PTEN in corticospinal neurons. Downregulation of PTEN and upregulation of phosphorylated AKT by DHA were also seen in primary cortical neuron cultures and were accompanied by increased neurite outgrowth. In summary, acute DHA induces anatomical and synaptic plasticity in adult injured spinal cord. This study shows that DHA has therapeutic potential in cervical SCI and provides evidence that DHA could exert its beneficial effects in SCI via enhancement of neuroplasticity.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT:

In this study, we show that an acute intravenous injection of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) 30 min after spinal cord injury induces neuroplasticity. We found robust sprouting of uninjured corticospinal and serotonergic fibers in a rat hemisection spinal cord injury model. A mouse pyramidotomy model was used to confirm that the robust sprouting involved V2a interneurons. We show that DHA significantly upregulates miR-21 and phosphorylated AKT, and downregulates phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), which is involved in suppressing anatomical plasticity, in corticospinal neurons and in primary cortical neuron cultures. We conclude that acute DHA can induce anatomical and synaptic plasticity. This provides direct evidence that DHA could exert its beneficial effects in spinal cord injury via neuroplasticity enhancement.

KEYWORDS:

docosahexaenoic acid; neuroplasticity; omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids; spinal cord injury

PMID:
26377463
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0605-15.2015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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