Fish oil may protect against diseases like Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder first described by James Parkinson in 1817 as ‘paralysis agitans’ (shaking palsy). Dr Nicholas Bazan and colleagues from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center recently presented new research findings to the American Society for Nutrition at the annual meeting for Experimental Biology 2009. These findings demonstrate that omega-3 fatty acids in the diet may help prevent the misfolding of a protein resulting from a gene mutation, which is a characteristic of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

Dr Bazan and colleagues developed a cell model with an Ataxin-1 gene mutation, caused by an abnormally high number of base repeats (cytosine, adenine and guanine), which induces the production of misfolded proteins. Consequently, these proteins acquire toxic gains-of-function and become averse to degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) which serves to dispose of aberrant proteins. One resultant disorder of this Ataxin-1 mutation is Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA) characterised by lack of muscle coordination, speech impairment, deformity of the spine, irregularity of movement along with other developing symptoms.

The research led by Dr Bazan, who is the Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence found that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid, protects the cells from the Ataxin-1 mutation defect. DHA is obtained from the diet is derived mainly from marine alage and fish oils. It is known to be the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid found in the membrane phospholipids of neurons. Functionally, free DHA produces neuroprotection D1 (NDP1) which limits oxidative-stress induced cell death. NDP1 is an effective anti-inflammatory signalling molecule with neuroprotective value in several neurodegenerative diseases. DHA is required to maintain membrane integrity and subsequently NDP1 protects cells from apoptosis.

Therapeutically, this research by Dr Bazan and colleagues provides proof of principle that NDP1 can be utilised to target neurodegenerative diseases. Dr Bazan is quoted as saying that the results of his study should provide the basis of new therapeutic approaches to manipulate retinal pigment epithelial cells to be used as a source of NDP1 to treat patients with disorders characterised by this mutation like Parkinson’s, Retinis Pigmentosa and some forms of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Article submitted thanks to Reading Scientific Services Ltd     Read More

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