Fish oils can help repair brain and eye cells that are damaged by a stroke, and neuro-degenerative and retinal diseases.
The omega-3 fatty acids contain proteins that help the cells reprogramme themselves, scientists have discovered this week.
Cellular rebuilding can begin within an hour of taking the fish oils, say researchers from the Louisiana State University, led by Nicolas Bazan. The oils automatically produce a ‘signalling molecule’, neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), which Bazan discovered and named in 2004.
In his new research, Bazan has found that NPD1 triggers the production of a protein that protects against toxic free radicals, and repairs injury in the brain and retina, such as from a stroke. The protein “turns out to be key for cell functioning reprogramming and subsistence,” says Prof Bazan.
His findings add to research that has already established that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in omega-3 is vital for healthy brain function, and helps develop the nervous system and vision.
DHA’s mechanisms were discovered when Bazan and his team tested it on laboratory cells that had undergone two hours of ‘stroke’. The healing effects started within an hour, and peaked after six hours.
He believes it can repair damage caused by a stroke or by a disease that affects the brain and vision.
(Source: Cell Death and Differentiation, 2017; doi: 10.1038/cdd.2017.55)