Food and Behaviour Research

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The omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, decreases neuronal cell death in association with altered zinc transport

Suphioglu C, De Mel D, Kumar L, Sadli N, Freestone D, Michalczyk A, Sinclair A, Ackland ML. (2010) FEBS Lett.  584(3) 612-8. Epub 2009 Dec 17. 

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Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the major polyunsaturated fatty acid in neuronal cell membranes. We hypothesize that DHA induces a decrease in neuronal cell death through reduced ZnT3 expression and zinc uptake. Exposure of M17 cells to DHA-deficient medium increased the levels of active caspase-3, relative to levels in DHA-replete cells, confirming the adverse effects of DHA deficiency in promoting neuronal cell death. In DHA-treated M17 cells, zinc uptake was 65% less and ZnT3 mRNA and protein levels were reduced in comparison with DHA-depleted cells. We propose that the neuroprotective function of DHA is exerted through a reduction in cellular zinc levels that in turn inhibits apoptosis.