Posted on Jan 27, 2011, 6 a.m.
Dietary supplementation of the docosahexanoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, may help to prevent traumatic brain injury, in a lab animal model.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious medical condition whose incidence among athletes engaged in impact sports, as well as soldiers in the military, is on the rise. To-date there has been little advancement in the area of prophylactic measures to prevent brain injury. Julian Bailes, from West Virginia University (West Virginia, USA), and colleagues studied a group of 16 adult male rats. The animals received daily doses of docosahexanoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, at 0, 3, 12, or 40 mg/kg for 30 days prior to inducement of a traumatic brain injury. The team found that the animals that received the highest dose of DHA incurred significantly reduced brain tissue damage, as compared to the other study animals. Notably, levels of beta amyloid precursor protein (APP), an anatomical marker of brain injury, measured 1.15 APP positive axons per high power field in the high dose group, as compared with 6.78 in animals that did not consume supplemental DHA. As well, high-dose animals also had decreased expression of caspase 3 and macrophages, which are considered to be key indicators of brain cell death. Finally, DHA was also associated with reduced behavioral impairment, as measured by performance in a water maze. Writing that: “Dietary supplementation with DHA increases serum levels and, if given prior to traumatic brain injury, reduces the injury response,” the researchers urge that: “The potential for DHA to provide prophylactic benefit to the brain against traumatic injury appears promising.”
Mills, James D; Hadley, Kevin; Bailes, Julian E. “Dietary Supplementation With the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Docosahexaenoic Acid in Traumatic Brain Injury.” Neurosurgery. 68(2):474-481, February 2011.