Many clinical and animal studies demonstrate the importance of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) in neural development and neurodegeneration. This review will focus on involvement of LCPUFA from genesis to senescence.

The LCPUFA docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid are important components of neuronal membranes, while eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and arachidonic acid also affect cardiovascular health and inflammation.

In neural development, LCPUFA deficiency can lead to severe disorders like schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Perinatal LCPUFA supplementation demonstrated beneficial effects in neural development in humans and rodents resulting in improved cognition and sensorimotor integration. In normal aging, the effect of LCPUFA on prevention of cognitive impairment will be discussed.

LCPUFA are important for neuronal membrane integrity and function, and also contribute in prevention of brain hypoperfusion. Cerebral perfusion can be compromised as result of obesity, cerebrovascular disease, hypertension, or diabetes mellitus type 2.

Last, we will focus on the role of LCPUFA in most common neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. These disorders are characterized by impaired cognition and connectivity and both clinical and animal supplementation studies have shown the potential of LCPUFA to decrease neurodegeneration and inflammation.

This review shows that LCPUFA are essential throughout life.