A putative link of PUFA, GPR40 and adult-born hippocampal neurons for memory

Prog Neurobiol. 2008 Feb;84(2):105-15. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2007.11.002. Epub 2007 Nov 26.


Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) such as docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acids, which are enriched in the brain, are important for multiple aspects of neuronal development and function including neurite outgrowth, signal transduction and membrane fluidity. Recent studies show that PUFA are capable of improving hippocampal long-term potentiation, learning ability of aged rats, and cognitive function of humans with memory deficits, although the underlying mechanisms are unknown. There have been several reports studying physiological roles of G-protein coupled receptor 40 (GPR40) in the pancreas, but no studies have focused on the function of GPR40 in the brain. As GPR40 was recently identified in neurons throughout the brain, it is probable that certain PUFA may act, as endogenous ligands, on GPR40 at their cell surface. However, the effects of PUFA upon neuronal functions are still not clearly understood. Here, although circumferential, a combination of in vitro and in vivo data is introduced to consider the effects of docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acids on brain functions. GPR40 was found in the newborn neurons of the normal and postischemic hippocampi of adult macaque monkeys, while the positive effects of PUFA upon Ca(2+) mobilization and cognitive functions were demonstrated in both GPR40 gene-transfected PC12 cells and human subjects with memory deficits. The purpose of this review is to propose a putative link among PUFA, GPR40, and hippocampal newborn neurons by discussing whether PUFA can improve memory functions through GPR40 activation of adult-born neurons. At present, little is known about PUFA requirements that make possible neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus. However, the idea that 'PUFA-GPR40 interaction might be crucial for adult neurogenesis and/or memory' should be examined in detail using various experimental paradigms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism*
  • Haplorhini
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / physiology


  • FFAR1 protein, human
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled