Classically, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) were largely thought to be relatively inert structural components of brain, largely important for the formation of cellular membranes. Over the past 10 years, a host of bioactive lipid mediators that are enzymatically derived from arachidonic acid, the main n-6 PUFA, and docosahexaenoic acid, the main n-3 PUFA in the brain, known to regulate peripheral immune function, have been detected in the brain and shown to regulate microglia activation. Recent advances have focused on how PUFA regulate the molecular signaling of microglia, especially in the context of neuroinflammation and behavior. Several active drugs regulate brain lipid signaling and provide proof of concept for targeting the brain. Because brain lipid metabolism relies on a complex integration of diet, peripheral metabolism, including the liver and blood, which supply the brain with PUFAs that can be altered by genetics, sex, and aging, there are many pathways that can be disrupted, leading to altered brain lipid homeostasis. Brain lipid signaling pathways are altered in neurologic disorders and may be viable targets for the development of novel therapeutics. In this study, we discuss in particular how n-3 PUFAs and their metabolites regulate microglia phenotype and function to exert their anti-inflammatory and proresolving activities in the brain.
Copyright © 2017 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.