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Docosahexaenoic and Arachidonic Acids as Neuroprotective Nutrients throughout the Life Cycle

Sambra V, Echeverria F, Valenzuela A, Chouinard-Watkins R, Valenzuela R (2021) Nutrients 18;13(3):986 doi: 10.3390/nu13030986 

Web URL: Read this and related articles on PubMed


The role of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) in neurogenesis and brain development throughout the life cycle is fundamental.  DHA and AA are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) vital for many human physiological processes, such as signaling pathways, gene expression, structure and function of membranes, among others.

DHA and AA are deposited into the lipids of cell membranes that form the gray matter representing approximately 25% of the total content of brain fatty acids. Both fatty acids have effects on neuronal growth and differentiation through the modulation of the physical properties of neuronal membranes, signal transduction associated with G proteins, and gene expression.

DHA and AA have a relevant role in neuroprotection against neurodegenerative pathologies such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, which are associated with characteristic pathological expressions as mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation, and oxidative stress.

The present review analyzes the neuroprotective role of DHA and AA in the extreme stages of life, emphasizing the importance of these LCPUFA during the first year of life and in the developing/prevention of neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging.