Fatty acids and their therapeutic potential in neurological disorders

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There is little doubt that we are what we eat. Fatty acid supplementation and diets rich in fatty acids are being promoted as ways to a healthier brain.

Short chain fatty acids are a product of intestinal microbiota metabolism of dietary fibre; and their derivatives are used as an anti-convulstant. They demonstrated therapeutic potential in neurodegenerative conditions as HDAC inhibitors; and while the mechanism is not well understood, have been shown to lower amyloid β in Alzheimer's Disease in preclinical studies. Medium chain fatty acids consumed as a mixture in dietary oils can induce ketogenesis without the need for a ketogentic diet. Hence, this has the potential to provide an alternative energy source to prevent neuronal cell death due to lack of glucose. Long chain fatty acids are commonly found in the diet as omega fatty acids. They act as an anti-oxidant protecting neuronal cell membranes from oxidative damage and as an anti-inflammatory mediator in the brain.

We review which agents, from each fatty acid class, have the most therapeutic potential for neurological disorders (primarily Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as possible applications to traumatic brain injury), by discussing what is known about their biological mechanisms from preclinical studies.

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