DHA Boosts Nerve Cell Growth in Old Animals
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) of the omega-3 series and omega-6 series modulate neurite outgrowth in immature neurones. However, it has not been determined if their neurotrophic effects persist in adult and aged tissue. We prepared cultures of primary sensory neurones from male and female rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG), isolated at different ages: post-natal day 3 (P3) and day 9 (P9), adult (2-4 months) and aged (18-20 months). Cultures were incubated with the omega-6 PUFA arachidonic acid (AA) and the omega-3 PUFA eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), at 0.8, 4, 8 and 40muM. PUFA increased neurite outgrowth throughout the developmental stages studied. The effects of omega-3 PUFA, in particular DHA, were still prominent in aged tissue. The amplitude of the effects was comparable to that of nerve growth factor (NGF; 50ng/ml) and all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA; 0.1muM). The effects of PUFA were similar in cells positive or negative for the N52 neurofilament marker. Our results show that omega-3 PUFA have a marked neurite-promoting potential in neurones from adult and aged animals.
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