Animal Study: Potential for Unsaturated Fatty Acids

June 2/Frankfurt, Germany/ -- "Perilla frutescens seed oil (PFSO) represents a rich source of unsaturated fatty acids, especially of omega-3 linolenic acid and is commonly used as herbal food supplement with beneficial effects on the vascular system. The present study investigated the effects of PFSO on the central nervous system (CNS) and provides new insight into potential mechanisms for protective properties of unsaturated fatty acids within the CNS," scientists in Frankfurt, Germany, report.

"PFSO was administered chronically to guinea pigs, and neuroprotective properties were assessed ex vivo in dissociated brain cells. Dissociated brain cells isolated from PFSO treated guinea pigs were less vulnerable against nitrosative stress as indicated by decreased levels of reactive oxygen species, by stabilized mitochondrial membrane potential and enhanced levels of adenosine-triphosphate. In the brain, levels of oleic, linoleic, arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids were significantly enhanced. However, fatty acid composition and membrane dynamics of isolated synaptosomal plasma membranes were not affected," wrote G.P. Eckert and colleagues, Goethe University Frankfurt.

The researchers concluded, "Our findings provide new insights into the potential mechanisms for the neuroprotective actions of unsaturated fatty acids and identified PFSO as promising a nutraceutical and possible alternative to fish oil supplements to provide healthful activities in the brain."

Eckert and colleagues published their study in Pharmacological Research ("Plant-derived Omega-3 Fatty Acids Protect Mitochondrial Function in the Brain." Pharmacological Research, 2010;61(3 Sp. Iss.):234-241).

For additional information, contact G.P. Eckert, Goethe University Frankfurt, Dept. of Pharmacology, Bioctr, Campus Riedberg, N260 R1-09, Max von Laue St., D-60438 Frankfurt, Germany.

From the June 7, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition