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      Reduced acute neuroinflammation and improved functional recovery after traumatic brain injury by α-linolenic acid supplementation in mice

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          Adequate consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) is vital for normal development and functioning of the central nervous system. The long-chain n-3 PUFAs docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid are anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective in the models of central nervous system injury including traumatic brain injury (TBI). In the present study, we tested whether a higher brain DHA status in a mouse model on an adequate dietary α-linolenic acid (ALA) leads to reduced neuroinflammation and improved spontaneous recovery after TBI in comparison to a moderately lowered brain DHA status that can occur in humans.


          Mice reared on diets with differing ALA content were injured by a single cortical contusion impact. Change in the expression of inflammatory cytokines was measured, and cellular changes occurring after injury were analyzed by immunostaining for macrophage/microglia and astrocytes. Behavioral studies included rotarod and beam walk tests and contextual fear conditioning.


          Marginal supply (0.04 %) of ALA as the sole dietary source of n-3 PUFA from early gestation produced reduction of brain DHA by 35 % in adult offspring mice in comparison to the mice on adequate ALA diet (3.1 %). The DHA-depleted group showed significantly increased TBI-induced expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 in the brain as well as slower functional recovery from motor deficits compared to the adequate ALA group. Despite the reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokine expression, adequate ALA diet did not significantly alter either microglia/macrophage density around the contusion site or the relative M1/M2 phenotype. However, the glial fibrillary acidic protein immunoreactivity was reduced in the injured cerebral cortex of the mice on adequate ALA diet, indicating that astrocyte activation may have contributed to the observed differences in cellular and behavioral responses to TBI.


          Increasing the brain DHA level even from a moderately DHA-depleted state can reduce neuroinflammation and improve functional recovery after TBI, suggesting possible improvement of functional outcome by increasing dietary n-3 PUFA in human TBI.

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          Most cited references 30

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          A rapid method of total lipid extraction and purification.

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            Blood-brain barrier: structural components and function under physiologic and pathologic conditions.

            The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is the specialized system of brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMVEC) that shields the brain from toxic substances in the blood, supplies brain tissues with nutrients, and filters harmful compounds from the brain back to the bloodstream. The close interaction between BMVEC and other components of the neurovascular unit (astrocytes, pericytes, neurons, and basement membrane) ensures proper function of the central nervous system (CNS). Transport across the BBB is strictly limited through both physical (tight junctions) and metabolic barriers (enzymes, diverse transport systems). A functional polarity exists between the luminal and abluminal membrane surfaces of the BMVEC. As a result of restricted permeability, the BBB is a limiting factor for the delivery of therapeutic agents into the CNS. BBB breakdown or alterations in transport systems play an important role in the pathogenesis of many CNS diseases (HIV-1 encephalitis, Alzheimer's disease, ischemia, tumors, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease). Proinflammatory substances and specific disease-associated proteins often mediate such BBB dysfunction. Despite seemingly diverse underlying causes of BBB dysfunction, common intracellular pathways emerge for the regulation of the BBB structural and functional integrity. Better understanding of tight junction regulation and factors affecting transport systems will allow the development of therapeutics to improve the BBB function in health and disease.
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              Essential protective roles of reactive astrocytes in traumatic brain injury.

              Astrocytes respond to traumatic brain injury (TBI) by altered gene expression, hypertrophy and proliferation that occur in a gradated fashion in relation to the severity of the injury. Both beneficial and detrimental effects have been attributed to reactive astrocytes, but their roles after brain injury are not well understood. To investigate these roles, we determined the effects on cortical tissue of ablating reactive astrocytes after contusion injury generated by controlled cortical impact (CCI) of different severities in transgenic mice that express a glial fibrillary acidic protein-herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase transgene. Treatment of these mice with the antiviral agent, ganciclovir, conditionally ablates proliferating reactive astrocytes. Moderate or severe CCI were generated with a precisely regulated pneumatic piston, and forebrain tissue was evaluated using immunohistochemistry and quantitative morphometry. Moderate CCI in control mice triggered extensive and persisting reactive astrogliosis, with most neurons being preserved, little inflammation and an 18% loss of cortical tissue beneath the impact site. Ablation of reactive astrocytes after moderate CCI in transgenic mice caused substantial neuronal degeneration and inflammation, with a significantly greater 60% loss of cortical tissue. Severe CCI in control mice caused pronounced neuronal degeneration and loss of about 88% of cortical tissue that was not significantly altered by ablating reactive astrocytes in transgenic mice. Thus, ablation of dividing reactive astrocytes exacerbated cortical degeneration after moderate CCI, but did not alter cortical degeneration after severe CCI. These findings indicate that the reactive astrocytes play essential roles in preserving neural tissue and restricting inflammation after moderate focal brain injury.

                Author and article information

                301-402-8746 , hykim@nih.gov
                J Neuroinflammation
                J Neuroinflammation
                Journal of Neuroinflammation
                BioMed Central (London )
                23 September 2016
                23 September 2016
                : 13
                Laboratory of Molecular Signaling, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, 5625 Fishers Lane, Rm. 3N-07, Bethesda, MD 20892-9410 USA
                © The Author(s). 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: NIAAA intramural program
                Funded by: HJF/USAMRAA
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                © The Author(s) 2016


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