Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Fish oil may help protect against retinal degenerative diseases

A invited paper published in Trends in Neuroscience this week by Nicolas G. Bazan, MD, PhD, Boyd Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, reports on the role that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil play in protecting cells in the retina from degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of loss of vision in those older than 65.

The paper is titled, Cell survival matters: docosahexaenoic acid signaling, neuroprotection and photoreceptors.

In these blinding eye diseases, photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) degenerate and die. Although this process can be triggered by many different things, one of the most significant protective factors may be the close association of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells and the amount of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in them. The main role of RPE cells is photoreceptor maintenance–they conduct the daily shedding, internalization, and degradation of the tips of the photoreceptor outer segments. It now appears that RPE cells are also key to the survival of photoreceptor cells.

Both photoreceptor and RPE cell types are normally exposed to potentially damaging factors such as sunlight and high oxygen tension.

How the cells avoid damage from these factors and others has been a mystery, up to now. Dr. Bazan’s LSUHSC group, in close collaboration with colleagues at Harvard, has made several key discoveries that are beginning to provide answers to this complex riddle. One of them is the importance of DHA. RPE cells cope with sunlight and oxidative stress, as well as trauma, by using antioxidants like Vitamin E, present in the cells. Part of the RPE cells’ response is to activate the synthesis of a major neuroprotective compound, which Dr. Bazan and colleagues discovered, called neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1). NPD1 inhibits genes causing inflammation and cell death that oxidative stress and other triggers turn on. RPE cells contain the omega-3 fatty acid family member, DHA, which Dr. Bazan and colleagues found is a precursor to NPD1. RPE cells regulate the uptake, conservation, and delivery of DHA to the photoreceptor cells. DHA, known to be in short supply in patients with retinitis pigmentosa and Usher’s syndrome, promotes protective cell signaling by facilitating the expression of helpful rather than destructive proteins as well as stimulating the production of NPD1. DHA and NPD1 also decrease the production of damaging free radicals. DHA has been shown by Dr. Bazan to promote survival and inhibit cell death not only of photoreceptor cells, but also of neurons in an experimental model of Alzheimer’s disease.

Questions remain, including the identification of another receptor believed to be an important pathway for NPD1, more information about the signals that control the formation of NPD1, and if NPD1 or a synthetic counterpart might be effective when administered therapeutically.

"Because the early clinical manifestations of most retinal degeneration precedes massive photoreceptor cell death, it is important to define the initial crucial events," notes Dr. Bazan. "This knowledge might be applicable to the design of novel therapeutic interventions to halt or slow disease progression."

Leslie Capo | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

3-D-printed structures shrink when heated

26.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow

26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

First results of NSTX-U research operations

26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>