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Docosahexaenoic acid induces proliferation of neural stem cells via activation of Akt/ERK signaling pathways

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 — Poster Session IV

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Natcher Conference Center




  • MA Rashid
  • M Katakura
  • HY Kim


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has been shown to promote neuronal differentiation. In this study, we examined the role of DHA in proliferation of neural stem cells (NSCs). The NSCs were collected from fetal rat brains (E14.5) and cultured by neurosphere method with fibroblast growth factor (FGF). After dissociation of the neurospheres, the NSCs were cultured with DHA in comparison to docosapentaenoic (DPAn-6), arachidonic (AA) and oleic acids (OA). The number of live cells was measured by using the MTS assay. The NSCs were stained with nestine (NSC marker) to estimate the purity of NSCs. Both DHA and DPAn-6 dose-dependently increased NSC proliferation. Other fatty acids such as arachidonic and oleic acids did not affect NSC proliferation, suggesting that very long chain highly unsaturated fatty acids have a unique role in neurogenesis. Treatment of NSCs with DHA and DPAn-6 facilitated FGF-induced phosphorylation of Akt and Erk. Concurrently, FGF-induced Notch receptor signaling was also facilitated as the intracellular domain of Notch (NICD) was increased by DHA and DPAn-6. These data suggest that highly unsaturated very long chain fatty acids target Akt and Erk activation along with Notch signaling to induce NSC proliferation.

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