New paper: Fish Oil, Omega-3 and Alzheimer’s Disease

!Publication Alert!

Last month Dr Tommy Wood and I published a scientific article that we had been working on for the past year.

“Why Have the Benefits of DHA Not Been Borne Out in the Treatment and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease? A Narrative Review Focused on DHA Metabolism and Adipose Tissue”

You can find the full text here at MDPI, free to read, by following this link.

Broadly, the paper is built upon the current ambiguity that surrounds the effects of fish oils, and specifically the polyunsaturated ‘omega’ fatty acids that are contained in fish oils, in the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

In laboratory studies, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain neuronal cell function, can reduce inflammation, impact the inflammation resolution process and can have significant effects on cardiovascular health, too. Interestingly, whilst many population studies have shown benefit from eating fish, fewer studies have shown benefit after providing fish oil or omega-3 supplementation. Why is there this disconnect between laboratory and population evidence with deliberately planned attempts to study the effects of omega-3 in neurocognitive disease?

Some authors have suggested that the form of the omega-3 is crucial to the absorption of these fatty acids from the gut, into the blood stream, and onwards into tissues such as the brain. Some forms, such as lysophosphatidylcholine-DHA and phospholipid-DHA, are suggested to undergo rapid rates of entry into the brain through a special transporter called ‘Mfsd2a’; thereby having the potential to provide omega-3 fatty acids to people with an acute need for these fatty acids e.g. in neurodegenerative disease.

In summary, we discuss the available studies surrounding the uptake of DHA and its various forms into the brain – and suggests that this process is more complex than the current studies are able to illuminate, with the introduction of a potentially key player in the absorption-distribution-assimilation process.

Writing this paper was a fantastic learning experience – getting to grips with a very broad base of knowledge about quite tiny aspects of fatty acid physiology, whilst also developing my ability to appraise studies, to pick up upon the details and differences, and to test my ability of extended writing.

That’s all for now. If you want to learn more, you’ll have to read the paper!

Would be glad and happy to hear thoughts and comments about the paper itself.

A figure taken from the text describing the proposed paths of digestion and assimilation of DHA, a key omega-3 fatty acid.

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