Plasma non-esterified docosahexaenoic acid is the major pool supplying the brain

Sci Rep. 2015 Oct 29;5:15791. doi: 10.1038/srep15791.


Despite being critical for normal brain function, the pools that supply docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to the brain are not agreed upon. Using multiple kinetic models in free-living adult rats, we first demonstrate that DHA uptake from the plasma non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) pool predicts brain uptake of DHA upon oral administration, which enters the plasma NEFA pool as well as multiple plasma esterified pools. The rate of DHA loss by the brain is similar to the uptake from the plasma NEFA pool. Furthermore, upon acute iv administration, although more radiolabeled lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC)-DHA enters the brain than NEFA-DHA, this is due to the longer plasma half-life and exposure to the brain. Direct comparison of the uptake rate of LPC-DHA and NEFA-DHA demonstrates that uptake of NEFA-DHA into the brain is 10-fold greater than LPC-DHA. In conclusion, plasma NEFA-DHA is the major plasma pool supplying the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood*
  • Lysophosphatidylcholines / pharmacology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Radiography
  • Rats


  • Lysophosphatidylcholines
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids