Epidemiological studies have linked fish consumption to lower rates of neurological diseases. Fish contains high levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA), and several lines of evidence suggest that the n-3 PUFA docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) acts in the brain via anti-apoptotic and neurotrophic pathways. In addition, DHA may act through anti-neuroinflammatory pathways, as DHA possesses anti-inflammatory properties in the periphery. Evidence from animal models has indicated that DHA and its derivatives (resolvin D1 and protectin D1) attenuate colitis, peritonitis and ischemic stroke. n-3 PUFA deprivation in rats decreases brain levels of DHA and increases markers of the brain arachidonic acid (20:4n-6) cascade, a proinflammatory pathway. Thus, chronic low intake of n-3 PUFA may predispose the brain to weak anti-inflammatory, as well as strong proinflammatory signals. Neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and major depression, display a neuroinflammatory component. n-3 PUFA supplementation, as well as drugs targeting brain PUFA metabolism, are promising candidates in the prevention and treatment of neurological disorders.
Orr SK, Bazinet RP. The emerging role of docosahexaenoic acid in neuroinflammation. Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2008 July University of Toronto, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, FitzGerald Building, 150 College Street, Room 306, Toronto, ON M5S 3E2, Canada.