The role of omega-3 fatty acids in adult hippocampal Neurogenesis
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Authors: Dyall, S.C.
Journal: OCL - Oleagineux Corps Gras Lipides
Neurogenesis occurs in limited areas of the adult mammalian brain, and has been reported in the hippocampus of rodents and man. Neurogenesis is enhanced in conditions associated with enhanced synaptic plasticity and following neuronal injury, suggesting a role for neurogenesis in cognition and brain repair. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been shown to promote hippocampal neurogenesis in a variety of models. Importantly, recent work has shown that the fat-1 transgenic mouse, an animal model of endogenous omega-3 PUFA enrichment, exhibits enhanced neurogenesis, with concomitant improvements in spatial memory compared to wild type mice. During ageing, the rate of neurogenesis declines significantly and there is a strong correlation between memory impairment in hippocampal-dependent tasks and this decline. Interestingly, there is a strong correlation between omega-3 PUFA and hippocampal-dependent memory tasks, and we have recently shown that supplementation of aged rats with omega-3 PUFAs partially reverses the age-related decline in neurogenesis. Thus omega-3 PUFAs positively influence neurogenesis, and these effects may contribute to improved cognitive performance. However, the mechanisms by which omega-3 PUFAs regulate neurogenesis remain unclear, although a number or putative targets have been suggested. The aims of this paper are to review the role of omega-3 PUFA in hippocampal neurogenesis, and explore some of the potential mechanisms of action which may underlie the observed effects.