Posted on Sep 22, 2014, 6 a.m.
Omega-3 fatty acids help to make the cell membranes of neurons more malleable and therefore more sensitive to deformation and fission by proteins.
A growing number of studies suggest that consuming oils with high polyunsaturated fatty acid content, in particular those containing omega-3 fatty acids, exerts beneficial health effects. CNRS (France) researchers investigated the effect of lipids bearing polyunsaturated chains when they are integrated into cell membranes. Their work shows that the presence of these lipids makes the membranes more malleable and therefore more sensitive to deformation and fission by proteins. The study shows that cell- or artificial membranes rich in polyunsaturated lipids are much more sensitive to the action of two proteins, dynamin and endophilin, which facilitate membrane deformation and fission. Other measurements in the study and in simulations suggest that these lipids also make the membranes more malleable. By facilitating the deformation and scission necessary for endocytosis, the presence of polyunsaturated lipids could explain rapid synaptic vesicle recycling.. The abundance of these lipids in the brain could then represent a major advantage for cognitive function. The study authors submit that: “by reducing the energetic cost of membrane bending and fission, polyunsaturated [phospholipids] may help to support rapid endocytosis.”
M. Pinot, S. Vanni, S. Pagnotta, S. Lacas-Gervais, L.-A. Payet, T. Ferreira, R. Gautier, B. Goud, B. Antonny, H. Barelli. “Lipid cell biology. Polyunsaturated phospholipids facilitate membrane deformation and fission by endocytic proteins.” Science. 2014 Aug 8;345(6197):693-7.