A single bolus of docosahexaenoic acid promotes neuroplastic changes in the innervation of spinal cord interneurons and motor neurons and improves functional recovery after spinal cord injury

Zhuo Hao Liu, Ping K. Yip, Louise Adams, Meirion Davies, Jae Won Lee, Gregory J. Michael, John V. Priestley, Adina T. Michael-Titus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid that is essential in brain development and has structural and signaling roles. AcuteDHAadministration is neuroprotective and promotes functional recovery in animal models of adult spinal cord injury (SCI). However, the mechanisms underlying this recovery have not been fully characterized. Here we investigated the effects of an acute intravenous bolus of DHA delivered after SCI and characterized DHA-induced neuroplasticity within the adult injured spinal cord. We found robust sprouting of uninjured corticospinal and serotonergic fibers in a rat cervical hemisection SCI model. A mouse pyramidotomy model was used to confirm that this robust sprouting was not species or injury model specific. Furthermore, we demonstrated that corticospinal fibers sprouting to the denervated side of the cord following pyramidotomy contact V2a interneurons. We also demonstrated increased serotonin fibers and synaptophysin in direct contact with motor neurons. DHA also increased synaptophysin in rat cortical cell cultures. A reduction in phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) has been shown to be involved in axonal regeneration and synaptic plasticity. We showed that DHA significantly upregulates miR-21 and downregulates PTEN in corticospinal neurons. Downregulation of PTEN and upregulation of phosphorylated AKT by DHA were also seen in primary cortical neuron cultures and were accompanied by increased neurite outgrowth. In summary, acuteDHAinduces anatomical and synaptic plasticity in adult injured spinal cord. This study shows thatDHAhas therapeutic potential in cervical SCI and provides evidence thatDHAcould exert its beneficial effects in SCI via enhancement of neuroplasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12733-12752
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume35
Issue number37
DOIs
StatePublished - 16 09 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 the authors.

Keywords

  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Spinal cord injury

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