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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effects of diet and behavioral enrichment on free fatty acids in the aged canine brain

  • Author(s): Snigdha, S
  • Astarita, G
  • Piomelli, D
  • Cotman, CW
  • et al.

Despite several recent studies suggesting that dysregulation of brain lipid metabolism might contribute to the mechanisms of aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD), lipid metabolism has not been evaluated extensively in the aging brain. Here, we use a lipidomic approach to demonstrate that antioxidants plus mitochondrial cofactors treatment, either alone or in combination with behavioral enrichment, attenuates lipid abnormalities in the frontal cortices of aged canine in a manner correlated with cognitive scores. Our analyses revealed that the levels of free palmitoleic acid and nervonic acid were decreased in frontal cortices of aged dogs (n=5-6/group) treated with antioxidant compared with the control group. The monounsaturated/saturated fatty acid ratio, also known as "desaturation index"-an ex-vivo indicator of stearoyl-CoA desaturase activity, was also reduced in the frontal cortex of dogs treated with antioxidants compared with control groups. Increased palmitoleic acid levels and desaturation index were positively correlated with increased reversal learning errors and decreased cognitive performance. In conclusion, our study indicates that the addition of antioxidants and mitochondrial cofactors to the regular diet alters the composition of free fatty acids in the aged brain. Together with data showing increased palmitoleic acid levels in AD patients, our data suggest that reducing palmitoleic acid levels and desaturation index in the brain may be associated with improved cognitive performance. © 2011.

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