n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Reduce Neonatal Hypoxic/Ischemic Brain Injury by Promoting Phosphatidylserine Formation and Akt Signaling
Background and purpose—Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) attenuate neonatal hypoxic/ischemic (H/I) brain damage, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. This study tested the hypothesis that n-3 PUFAs enhance Akt-dependent prosurvival signaling by promoting the biosynthesis of phosphatidylserine in neuronal cell membranes.
Methods—Dietary n-3 PUFA supplementation was initiated on the second day of pregnancy in dams. H/I was induced in 7-day-old rat pups by ipsilateral common carotid artery occlusion followed by hypoxia (8% oxygen for 2.5 hours). Neurological outcomes, brain tissue loss, cell death, and the activation of signaling events were assessed after H/I. The effects of n-3 PUFAs (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid) on oxygen-glucose deprivation–induced cell death and the underlying mechanism of protection were also examined in primary cortical neuron cultures.
Results—n-3 PUFAs reduced brain tissue loss at 7 days after H/I and improved neurological outcomes, whereas inhibition of PI3K/Akt signaling by LY294002 partially abrogated this neuroprotective effect. Docosahexaenoic acid/eicosapentaenoic acid also prevented ischemic neuronal death through the Akt prosurvival pathway in vitro. Furthermore, docosahexaenoic acid/eicosapentaenoic acid increased the production of phosphatidylserine, the major membrane-bound phospholipids, after ischemia both in vitro and in vivo. A reduction in membrane phosphatidylserine by shRNA-mediated knockdown of phosphatidylserine synthetase-1 attenuated Akt activation and neuronal survival after docosahexaenoic acid/eicosapentaenoic acid treatment in the oxygen-glucose deprivation model.
Conclusions—n-3 PUFAs robustly protect against H/I-induced brain damage in neonates by activating Akt prosurvival pathway in compromised neurons. In addition, n-3 PUFAs promote the formation of membrane phosphatidylserine, thereby promoting Akt activity and improving cellular survival.
- Received July 15, 2015.
- Revision received August 11, 2015.
- Accepted August 13, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.