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Docosahexaenoic acid and synaptic protection in Alzheimer's disease mice

Oster T, Pillot T. (2010) Biochim Biophys Acta.  2010 Mar 6. [Epub ahead of print]  

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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a major public health concern due to longer life expectancy in the Western countries. Amyloid-beta (Abeta) oligomers are considered the proximate effectors in the early stages of AD. AD-related cognitive impairment, synaptic loss and neurodegeneration result from interactions of Abeta oligomers with the synaptic membrane and subsequent activation of pro-apoptotic signalling pathways. Therefore, membrane structure and lipid status appear determinant in Abeta-induced toxicity.

Numerous epidemiological studies have highlighted the beneficial influence of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6 n-3) on the preservation of synaptic function and memory capacities in aged individuals or upon Abeta exposure, whereas its deficiency is presented as a risk factor for AD. An elevated number of studies have been reporting the beneficial effects of dietary DHA supplementation on cognition and synaptic integrity in various AD models.

In this review, we describe the important potential of DHA to preserve neuronal and brain functions and classified its numerous molecular and cellular effects from impact on membrane lipid content and organisation to activation of signalling pathways sustaining synaptic function and neuronal survival. DHA appears as one of the most valuable diet ingredients whose neuroprotective properties could be crucial for designing nutrition-based strategies able to prevent AD as well as other lipid- and age-related diseases whose prevalence is progressing in elderly populations. Copyright © 2010. Published by Elsevier B.V.