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Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Alzheimer's Disease: Key Questions and Partial Answers

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The current rise in the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is unfortunately not matched by new treatment options. In the last 10 years, epidemiological, preclinical and clinical data have enlightened the possible preventive action of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) in AD and other diseases. While the contribution of recent studies to our general knowledge is priceless, many important new questions have been raised. In the present review, we aim at addressing some of these timely interrogations. First, the transport of n-3 PUFA across the blood-brain barrier is underscored based on preclinical data. Second, the relative contribution of two neuroactive n-3 PUFA found in fish oil, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6 n-3) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5 n-3), remains unclear and is reviewed. Third, clinical trials on neurodegenerative diseases consistently remind us that treating early is critical, and this is likely to be the case with n-3 PUFA in AD as well. Fourth, we draw attention to the possibility that the current knowledge translation approach to make health recommendations might have to be adapted to non-patentable endogenous compounds like n-3 PUFA. We propose that answers to these critical questions will be instrumental toward a rational use of n-3 PUFA in AD.





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Keywords: Alzheimer; PUFA; anti-inflammatory agent; blood-brain barrier; disease modification; docosahexaenoic acid; eicosapentaenoic acid; knowledge translation; omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids; placebo-controlled fashion

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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  • Current Alzheimer Research publishes peer-reviewed frontier review and research articles on all areas of Alzheimer's disease. This multidisciplinary journal will help in understanding the neurobiology, genetics, pathogenesis, and treatment strategies of Alzheimer's disease. The journal publishes objective reviews written by experts and leaders actively engaged in research using cellular, molecular, and animal models. The journal also covers original articles on recent research in fast emerging areas of molecular diagnostics, brain imaging, drug development and discovery, and clinical aspects of Alzheimer's disease. Manuscripts are encouraged that relate to the synergistic mechanism of Alzheimer's disease with other dementia and neurodegenerative disorders. Book reviews, meeting reports and letters-to-the-editor are also published. The journal is essential reading for researchers, educators and physicians with interest in age-related dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Current Alzheimer Research provides a comprehensive 'bird's-eye view' of the current state of Alzheimer's research for neuroscientists, clinicians, health science planners, granting, caregivers and families of this devastating disease.
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