Omega-3 PUFAs could aid Alzheimer’s fight by boosting glymphatic system: Macau mouse study

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The study was led by researchers at the University of Macau. ©iStock
The study was led by researchers at the University of Macau. ©iStock

Related tags Fatty acids Essential fatty acid

New research from Macau suggests that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids could improve the function of the glymphatic system, which facilitates the clearance of waste from the brain.

It is believed this could promote the clearance of metabolites including amyloid-β peptides, a primary culprit in Alzheimer's disease.

The findings of the study, led by researchers at the University of Macau, has been published online in The FASEB Journal​ .

To make this discovery, scientists first used transgenic fat-1 mice, which express high endogenous omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the brain, to investigate their effect on the clearance function of the glymphatic system.

Compared to the wild-type mice, the fat-1 mice with enriched endogenous omega-3 PUFAs were found to significantly promote the clearance function of the lymphatic system, including the clearance of amyloid-β (Aβ) from the brain.

Wild-type mice were then supplemented with fish oil, which contains high concentrations of omega-3 PUFAs, and it was discovered that this improved the clearance function of the glymphatic system, compared to the control mice without fish oil supplementation.

Numerous benefits

Omega-3 PUFAs help maintain the brain homeostasis, which may provide benefits in a number of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury, and sleep impairment, the researchers pointed out.

They wrote: “Impairment of Aβ clearance leads to [its] accumulation in the brain during the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Strategies that can restore or improve the clearance function hold great promise in delaying or preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Here, we show that n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), by use of fat-1 transgenic mice and oral administration of fish oil, significantly promote interstitial Aβ clearance from the brain and resist Aβ injury.”

They added that imaging on clarified brain tissues clearly revealed the impact that omega-3 PUFAs had.

‘It displayed that n-3 PUFAs markedly inhibit the activation of astrocytes and protect the AQP4 polarization in the affected brain region after Aβ injection,”​ they noted.

Thoru Pederson, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, said:​ "These now-famous fatty acids have been the subject of major studies both in academia and industry. Just when we thought we had heard everything, here is something new, and it is provocative indeed.”

Source: The FASEB Journal​ 

Published online before print October 7, 2016, doi:10.1096/fj.201600896

“Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids promote amyloid-β clearance from the brain through mediating the function of the glymphatic system”

Authors: Huixa Ren, et al.

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