N-3 PUFA supplementation benefits microglial responses to myelin pathology
Microglia represent rational but challenging targets for improving white matter integrity because of their dualistic protective and toxic roles. The present study examines the effect of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) on microglial responses to myelin pathology in primary cultures and in the cuprizone mouse model of multiple sclerosis (MS), a devastating demyelination disease. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the two main forms of n-3 PUFAs in the brain, inhibited the release of nitric oxide and tumor necrosis factor- αfrom primary microglia upon IFN-γ and myelin stimulation. DHA and EPA also enhanced myelin phagocytosis in vitro. Therefore, n-3 PUFAs can inhibit inflammation while at the same time enhancing beneficial immune responses such as microglial phagocytosis. In vivo studies demonstrated that n-3 PUFA supplementation reduced cuprizone-induced demyelination and improved motor and cognitive function. The positive effects of n-3 PUFAs were accompanied by a shift in microglial polarization toward the beneficial M2 phenotype both in vitro and in vivo. These results suggest that n-3 PUFAs may be clinically useful as immunomodulatory agents for demyelinating diseases through a novel mechanism involving microglial phenotype switching.
Chen, S., Zhang, H., Pu, H., Wang, G., Li, W., Leak, R., Chen, J., Liou, A., & Hu, X. (2014). N-3 PUFA supplementation benefits microglial responses to myelin pathology. Scientific Reports, 4. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep07458