Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) found that omega-3 fatty acids reduced brain damage in a neonatal mouse model of stroke. Findings from the study were published recently in PLOS ONE. The researchers treated 10-day-old mice that had incurred hypoxic-ischemicbrain injury (caused by a decrease in blood flow and oxygen to the brain, as occurs during a stroke) with a fat emulsion containing either DHA or EPA—omega-3 fatty acids that are found in certain foods and in supplements. The researchers evaluated the mice’s neurological function 24 hours and 8 to 9 weeks after the brain injury.
At 24 hours, mice treated with DHA, but not EPA, had a significant reduction in brain injury. In the following weeks, the DHA group also had significantly better results in multiple brain functions compared to the EPA-treated mice and untreated (control) mice. “Our findings suggest that injecting the omega-3 fatty acid DHA after a stroke-like event has the ability to protect brain mitochondria against the damaging effects of free radicals,” said senior co-author, Vadim S. Ten, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics at CUMC.