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      Docosahexaenoic Acid and Cognition throughout the Lifespan

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          Abstract

          Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the predominant omega-3 ( n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) found in the brain and can affect neurological function by modulating signal transduction pathways, neurotransmission, neurogenesis, myelination, membrane receptor function, synaptic plasticity, neuroinflammation, membrane integrity and membrane organization. DHA is rapidly accumulated in the brain during gestation and early infancy, and the availability of DHA via transfer from maternal stores impacts the degree of DHA incorporation into neural tissues. The consumption of DHA leads to many positive physiological and behavioral effects, including those on cognition. Advanced cognitive function is uniquely human, and the optimal development and aging of cognitive abilities has profound impacts on quality of life, productivity, and advancement of society in general. However, the modern diet typically lacks appreciable amounts of DHA. Therefore, in modern populations, maintaining optimal levels of DHA in the brain throughout the lifespan likely requires obtaining preformed DHA via dietary or supplemental sources. In this review, we examine the role of DHA in optimal cognition during development, adulthood, and aging with a focus on human evidence and putative mechanisms of action.

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          Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory.

          The hippocampus shrinks in late adulthood, leading to impaired memory and increased risk for dementia. Hippocampal and medial temporal lobe volumes are larger in higher-fit adults, and physical activity training increases hippocampal perfusion, but the extent to which aerobic exercise training can modify hippocampal volume in late adulthood remains unknown. Here we show, in a randomized controlled trial with 120 older adults, that aerobic exercise training increases the size of the anterior hippocampus, leading to improvements in spatial memory. Exercise training increased hippocampal volume by 2%, effectively reversing age-related loss in volume by 1 to 2 y. We also demonstrate that increased hippocampal volume is associated with greater serum levels of BDNF, a mediator of neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus. Hippocampal volume declined in the control group, but higher preintervention fitness partially attenuated the decline, suggesting that fitness protects against volume loss. Caudate nucleus and thalamus volumes were unaffected by the intervention. These theoretically important findings indicate that aerobic exercise training is effective at reversing hippocampal volume loss in late adulthood, which is accompanied by improved memory function.
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            Developmental potential in the first 5 years for children in developing countries

            Summary Many children younger than 5 years in developing countries are exposed to multiple risks, including poverty, malnutrition, poor health, and unstimulating home environments, which detrimentally affect their cognitive, motor, and social-emotional development. There are few national statistics on the development of young children in developing countries. We therefore identified two factors with available worldwide data—the prevalence of early childhood stunting and the number of people living in absolute poverty—to use as indicators of poor development. We show that both indicators are closely associated with poor cognitive and educational performance in children and use them to estimate that over 200 million children under 5 years are not fulfilling their developmental potential. Most of these children live in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. These disadvantaged children are likely to do poorly in school and subsequently have low incomes, high fertility, and provide poor care for their children, thus contributing to the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
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              The NALP3 inflammasome is involved in the innate immune response to amyloid-beta.

              The fibrillar peptide amyloid-beta (A beta) has a chief function in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Interleukin 1 beta (IL-1 beta) is a key cytokine in the inflammatory response to A beta. Insoluble materials such as crystals activate the inflammasome formed by the cytoplasmic receptor NALP3, which results in the release of IL-1 beta. Here we identify the NALP3 inflammasome as a sensor of A beta in a process involving the phagocytosis of A beta and subsequent lysosomal damage and release of cathepsin B. Furthermore, the IL-1 beta pathway was essential for the microglial synthesis of proinflammatory and neurotoxic factors, and the inflammasome, caspase-1 and IL-1 beta were critical for the recruitment of microglia to exogenous A beta in the brain. Our findings suggest that activation of the NALP3 inflammasome is important for inflammation and tissue damage in Alzheimer's disease.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nutrients
                Nutrients
                nutrients
                Nutrients
                MDPI
                2072-6643
                17 February 2016
                February 2016
                : 8
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]DSM Nutritional Products, R&D Human Nutrition and Health, Boulder, CO, USA; Chris.Butt@ 123456DSM.com
                [2 ]DSM Nutritional Products, R&D Human Nutrition and Health, Basel, Switzerland; hasan.mohajeri@ 123456dsm.com
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: michael.weiser@ 123456dsm.com ; Tel.: +1-303-305-0488
                Article
                nutrients-08-00099
                10.3390/nu8020099
                4772061
                26901223
                © 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution (CC-BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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