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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Dietary n-3 fatty acids and cerebral ischemia/reperfusion Slack, Penelope Jean


Many populations have low intakes of n-3 fatty acids, yet there is substantial evidence that the long chain n-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3), found at high concentrations in the brain, is required for the proper development of the nervous system. However, less is known about requirements of long chain n-3 fatty acids for maintenance and function of the nervous system in later life. Several recent studies have reported that high amounts of long chain n-3 fatty acids reduce the extent of brain damage caused by cerebral ischemia in animals. However, whether or not a dietary deficiency of n-3 fatty acids increases the extent of injury when cerebral ischemia occurs has not been previously reported. The present studies, therefore, sought to determine if a diet deficient in n-3 fatty acids influences the extent of brain injury in the rat following cerebral ischemia. Male rats were fed an n-3 fatty acid adequate (control), an n-3 fatty acid deficient, or a high DHA diet for 5 weeks from weaning. Middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) was induced and infarct volume was measured by 2,3,5,-triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining 24 hours after the procedure. Brain and platelet fatty acids were analyzed by gas liquid chromatography. DHA (22:6n-3) was 21-28% lower in brain phospholipids, and 17% lower in brain total fatty acids in the n-3 fatty acid deficient compared to control group, while 22:6n-3 was 12% higher in total brain fatty acids in the high DHA group than the control group. There was no significant difference in infarct volume (203, 220 and 218 mm³) among the control, n-3 fatty acid deficient, and high DHA groups, respectively. Platelet fatty acids and platelet aggregation were assessed to determine if these were influenced by the high DHA diet, and could possibly explain the observation of an apparent, but not statistically significant, higher number of rats with hemorrhages in the high DHA diet group. Platelet lipid arachidonic acid was not lower and platelet aggregation, assessed ex vivo using whole blood with a platelet function analyzer, was not longer in rats fed the high DHA compared to control or n-3 fatty acid deficient diets. In summary, dietary n-3 fatty acid deficiency did not increase the extent of brain injury following cerebral ischemia. The possibility that high dietary 22:6n-3 might increase susceptibility to cerebral hemorrhage will require further study.

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