Post-stroke administration of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids promotes neurovascular restoration after ischemic stroke in mice: Efficacy declines with aging

Neurobiol Dis. 2019 Jun:126:62-75. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2018.09.012. Epub 2018 Sep 12.


Post-stroke treatment with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) may be a promising therapy in young animals but this has not been tested in aged subjects, a population at most risk of ischemic stroke. Herein we examined the therapeutic efficacy of n-3 PUFAs after distal middle cerebral artery occlusion (dMCAO) in young (10-12 weeks old) and aged (18 months old) mice. Post-ischemic mice were randomly assigned to 4 groups that received: 1) regular food with low content of n-3 PUFAs, 2) intraperitoneal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, a major component of n-3 PUFAs) injections, 3) Fish oil (FO, containing high concentration of n-3 PUFAs) dietary supplement, or 4) combined treatment with DHA and FO dietary supplement. Long-term neurorestoration induced by n-3 PUFA post-stroke administration and its underlying mechanism(s) were analyzed up to 35 days after dMCAO. Aged mice showed more severe neurological deficits than young mice after dMCAO with histological lesions extended to the striatum. Notably, post-stroke treatment with combined DHA injections and FO dietary supplementation was more effective in reducing brain injury and improving sensorimotor function in aged mice than either treatment alone, albeit to a lesser extent than in the young mice. Unlike the improvement in spatial cognitive function observed in young mice, the combined treatment regimen failed to improve cognitive function in aged mice. The reduction in stroke-induced neurological deficits with n-3 PUFA post-treatment was associated with enhanced angiogenesis, oligodendrogenesis, neuron survival and white matter restoration. Together, these results indicate that the neurological benefits of n-3 PUFA administration after stroke extend to older animals and are associated with improved neuronal survival and brain remodeling, therefore suggesting that post-stroke administration of n-3 PUFAs is a viable clinically relevant treatment option against stroke.

Keywords: Aging; Angiogenesis; Oligodendrogenesis; White matter.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects*
  • Random Allocation
  • Stroke / pathology*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3