Figueroa, J D and M De Leon. Neurorestorative Targets of Dietary Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Neurological Injury. Mol Neurobiol, 2014.
Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-O3PUFAs) exhibit therapeutic potential for the treatment and prevention of the neurological deficits associated with spinal cord injury (SCI). However, the mechanisms implicated in these protective responses remain unclear. The objective of the present functional metabolomics study was to identify and define the dominant metabolic pathways targeted by dietary LC-O3PUFAs. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed rodent purified chows containing menhaden fish oil-derived LC-O3PUFAs for 8 weeks before being subjected to sham or spinal cord contusion surgeries. We show, through untargeted metabolomics, that dietary LC-O3PUFAs regulate important biochemical signatures associated with amino acid metabolism and free radical scavenging in both the injured and sham-operated spinal cord. Of particular significance, the spinal cord metabolome of animals fed with LC-O3PUFAs exhibited reduced glucose levels (-48 %) and polar uncharged/hydrophobic amino acids (less than -20 %) while showing significant increases in the levels of antioxidant/anti-inflammatory amino acids and peptides metabolites, including beta-alanine (+24 %), carnosine (+33 %), homocarnosine (+27 %), kynurenine (+88 %), when compared to animals receiving control diets (p < 0.05). Further, we found that dietary LC-O3PUFAs impacted the levels of neurotransmitters and the mitochondrial metabolism, as evidenced by significant increases in the levels of N-acetylglutamate (+43 %) and acetyl CoA levels (+27 %), respectively. Interestingly, this dietary intervention resulted in a global correction of the pro-oxidant metabolic profile that characterized the SCI-mediated sensorimotor dysfunction. In summary, the significant benefits of metabolic homeostasis and increased antioxidant defenses unlock important neurorestorative pathways of dietary LC-O3PUFAs against SCI.