Study Title:

DHA Protects Heart Cell Mitochondria

Study Abstract

Recent evidence has linked n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) supplementation with dramatic alterations of mitochondrial phospholipid membranes and favorable changes in mitochondrial function. In the present review, we examine the novel effects of n-3 PUFA on mitochondria, with an emphasis on cardiac mitochondrial phospholipids.

There is growing evidence that dietary n-3 PUFA, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), has profound effects on mitochondrial membrane phospholipid composition and mitochondrial function. Supplementation with n-3 PUFA increases membrane phospholipid DHA and depletes arachidonic acid, and can increase cardiolipin, a tetra-acyl phospholipid that is unique to mitochondrial and essential for optimal mitochondrial function. Recent studies show that supplementation with DHA decreases propensity for cardiac mitochondria to undergo permeability transition, a catastrophic event often leading to cell death. This finding provides a potential mechanism for the cardioprotective effect of DHA. Interestingly, other n-3 PUFAs that modify membrane composition to a lesser extent have substantially less of an effect on mitochondria and do not appear to directly protect the heart.

Current data support a role for n-3 PUFA supplementation, particularly DHA, on mitochondria that are strongly associated with changes in mitochondrial phospholipid composition.

Study Information

Stanley WC, Khairallah RJ, Dabkowski ER.
Update on lipids and mitochondrial function: impact of dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care.
2012 March
Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.

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