Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of cerebral injury after ischemia–reperfusion (I/R). Fish n-3 essential fatty acids (EFA), contain eicosapentaenoic acids (EPA) and docosahexoenoic acids (DHA), exhibit antioxidant properties. DHA is an important component of brain membrane phospholipids and is necessary for the continuity of neuronal functions. EPA prevents platelet aggregation and inhibits the conversion of arachidonic acid into thromboxane A2 and prostaglandins. They have been suggested to be protective agents against neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. In this study, the neuroprotective effects of fish n-3 EFA on oxidant–antioxidant systems and number of apoptotic neurons of the hippocampal formation (HF) subjected to cerebral I/R injury was investigated in Sprague–Dawley rats.
Six rats were used as control (Group I). Cerebral ischemia was produced by occlusion of both the common carotid arteries combined with hypotension for 45 min, followed by reperfusion for 30 min, in rats either on a standard diet (Group II) or a standard diet plus fish n-3 EFA (Marincap®, 0.4 g/kg/day, by gavage) for 14 days (Group III). At the end of procedures, the rats were sacrificed and their brains were removed immediately. The levels of malonedialdehyde (MDA) and nitric oxide (NO) and activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) were measured in left HF. In addition, the number of apoptotic neurons was counted by terminal transferase dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) assay in histological samples of the right HF.
We found that SOD activities and MDA levels increased in Group III rats compared with Group II rats. On the other hand, CAT activities and NO levels were found to be decreased in Group III rats compared with Group II rats. Additionally, the number of apoptotic neurons was lower in Group III in comparison with Group II rats.
The present findings suggest that fish n-3 EFA could decrease the oxidative status and apoptotic changes in ischemic rat hippocampal formation. Dietary supplementation of n-3 EFA may be beneficial to preserve or ameliorate ischemic cerebral vascular disease.