Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Review
. 2016 Jan 4;8(1):6.
doi: 10.3390/nu8010006.

DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function

Affiliations
Free PMC article
Review

DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function

Lotte Lauritzen et al. Nutrients. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a structural constituent of membranes specifically in the central nervous system. Its accumulation in the fetal brain takes place mainly during the last trimester of pregnancy and continues at very high rates up to the end of the second year of life. Since the endogenous formation of DHA seems to be relatively low, DHA intake may contribute to optimal conditions for brain development. We performed a narrative review on research on the associations between DHA levels and brain development and function throughout the lifespan. Data from cell and animal studies justify the indication of DHA in relation to brain function for neuronal cell growth and differentiation as well as in relation to neuronal signaling. Most data from human studies concern the contribution of DHA to optimal visual acuity development. Accumulating data indicate that DHA may have effects on the brain in infancy, and recent studies indicate that the effect of DHA may depend on gender and genotype of genes involved in the endogenous synthesis of DHA. While DHA levels may affect early development, potential effects are also increasingly recognized during childhood and adult life, suggesting a role of DHA in cognitive decline and in relation to major psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: brain development; desaturases; docosahexaenoic acid; psychiatric disorders.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Results from studies examining the potential modifying effect of single nucleotide polymorphisms in the fatty acid desaturase gene cluster on the effect of breastfeeding on IQ-like neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. The figure is based on data from [46,65,66,67,68] and gives the average IQ in the SNP×feeding groups (breast-fed in black and formula-fed in light gray). The grey stippled line is the reference line for mean normal IQ.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 54 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

References

    1. Vlaardingerbroek H., Hornstra G., de Koning T.J., Smeitink J.A., Bakker H.D., de Klerk H.B., Rubio-Gozalbo M.E. Essential polyunsaturated fatty acids in plasma and erythrocytes of children with inborn errors of amino acid metabolism. Mol. Genet. Metab. 2006;88:159–165. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2006.01.012. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Abbott S.K., Else P.L., Atkins T.A., Hulbert A.J. Fatty acid composition of membrane bilayers: Importance of diet polyunsaturated fat balance. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 2012;1818:1309–1317. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2012.01.011. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Neuringer M., Connor W.E., Lin D.S., Barstad L., Luck S. Biochemical and functional effects of prenatal and postnatal omega 3 fatty acid deficiency on retina and brain in rhesus monkeys. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 1986;83:4021–4025. doi: 10.1073/pnas.83.11.4021. - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Carrie I., Clement M., de Javel D., Frances H., Bourre J.M. Specific phospholipid fatty acid composition of brain regions in mice: Effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid deficiency and phospholipid supplementation. J. Lipid Res. 2000;41:465–472. - PubMed
    1. Carver J.D., Benford V.J., Han B., Cantor A.B. The relationship between age and the fatty acid composition of cerebral cortex and erythrocytes in human subjects. Brain Res. Bull. 2001;56:79–85. doi: 10.1016/S0361-9230(01)00551-2. - DOI - PubMed

Substances

Feedback