Research Article: Promoting Neurovascular Recovery in Aged Mice after Ischemic Stroke – Prophylactic Effect of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Date Published: October 1, 2017

Publisher: JKL International LLC

Author(s): Mengfei Cai, Wenting Zhang, Zhongfang Weng, R. Anne Stetler, Xiaoyan Jiang, Yejie Shi, Yanqin Gao, Jun Chen.


The aged population is among the highest at risk for ischemic stroke, yet most stroke patients of advanced ages (>80 years) are excluded from access to thrombolytic treatment by tissue plasminogen activator, the only FDA approved pharmacological therapy for stroke victims. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) robustly alleviate ischemic brain injury in young adult rodents, but have not yet been studied in aged animals. This study investigated whether chronic dietary supplementation of n-3 PUFAs protects aging brain against cerebral ischemia and improves long-term neurological outcomes. Aged (18-month-old) mice were administered n-3 PUFA-enriched fish oil in daily chow for 3 months before and up to 8 weeks after 45 minutes of transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO). Sensorimotor outcomes were assessed by cylinder test and corner test up to 35 days and brain repair dynamics evaluated immunohistologically up to 56 days after tMCAO. Mice receiving dietary supplementation of n-3 PUFAs for 3 months showed significant increases in brain ratio of n-3/n-6 PUFA contents, and markedly reduced long-term sensorimotor deficits and chronic ischemic brain tissue loss after tMCAO. Mechanistically, n-3 PUFAs robustly promoted post-ischemic angiogenesis and neurogenesis, and enhanced white matter integrity after tMCAO. The Pearson linear regression analysis revealed that the enhancement of neurogenesis and white matter integrity both correlated positively with improved sensorimotor activities after tMCAO. This study demonstrates that prophylactic dietary supplementation of n-3 PUFAs effectively improves long-term stroke outcomes in aged mice, perhaps by promoting post-stroke brain repair processes such as angiogenesis, neurogenesis, and white matter restoration.

Partial Text

The present study is the first to investigate the therapeutic efficacy of n-3 PUFAs in aged brain following transient cerebral ischemia. Extended dietary supplementation with n-3 PUFA-enriched fish oil significantly increased the content in brain parenchyma of aging mice. n-3 PUFAs significantly improved neurological outcomes, which were positively correlated with enhanced neurogenesis, angiogenesis and white matter integrity following transient cerebral ischemia.




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