The functional significance of the selective enrichment of the omega-3 essential fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22C and 6 double bonds) in cellular membrane phospholipids of the nervous system is being clarified by defining its specific roles on membrane protein function and by the uncovering of the bioactive mediators, docosanoids and elovanoids (ELVs). Here, we describe the preferential uptake and DHA metabolism in photoreceptors and brain as well as the significance of the Adiponectin receptor 1 in DHA retention and photoreceptor cell (PRC) survival. We now know that this integral membrane protein is engaged in DHA retention as a necessary event for the function of PRCs and retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. We present an overview of how a) NPD1 selectively mediates preconditioning rescue of RPE and PR cells; b) NPD1 restores aberrant neuronal networks in experimental epileptogenesis; c) the decreased ability to biosynthesize NPD1 in memory hippocampal areas of early stages of Alzheimer's disease takes place; d) NPD1 protection of dopaminergic circuits in an in vitro model using neurotoxins; and e) bioactivity elicited by DHA and NPD1 activate a neuroprotective gene-expression program that includes the expression of Bcl-2 family members affected by Aβ42, DHA, or NPD1. In addition, we highlight ELOVL4 (ELOngation of Very Long chain fatty acids-4), specifically the neurological and ophthalmological consequences of its mutations, and their role in providing precursors for the biosynthesis of ELVs. Then we outline evidence of ELVs ability to protect RPE cells, which sustain PRC integrity. In the last section, we present a summary of the protective bioactivity of docosanoids and ELVs in experimental ischemic stroke. The identification of early mechanisms of neural cell survival mediated by DHA-synthesized ELVs and docosanoids contributes to the understanding of cell function, pro-homeostatic cellular modulation, inflammatory responses, and innate immunity, opening avenues for prevention and therapeutic applications in neurotrauma, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.

PMID: 30244005

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