Docosahexaenoic Acid Increases Phosphatidylserine in Neuronal Membranes

The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 8 No. 4 • October 2005

Docosahexaenoic Acid Increases Phosphatidylserine in Neuronal Membranes

Phosphatidylserine is a major constituent of cell membranes and is used as a dietary supplement for its potential neuroprotective effects.1 A new paper2 reports that, acting via the Akt signaling pathway, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) increases phosphatidylserine concentrations in neuronal cell membranes, thereby acting as a protectant against apoptosis (programmed cell death).

The authors explain that DHA is highly enriched in neuronal membranes and promotes neuron survival by facilitating membrane translocation/activation of Akt via DHA’s ability to increase phosphatidylserine. They found that in vivo reduction of DHA by dietary depletion resulted in decreased hippocampal phosphatidylserine and increased neuronal susceptibility to apoptosis in culture. Moreover, the authors write, “. . . DHA enrichment partially prevented the reduction of Akt phosphorylation and activity caused by serum starvation, suggesting that DHA promoted cell survival by assisting in the maintenance of basal Akt activity under an adverse condition.”


  1. Nolan et al. Evidence of a protective effect of phosphatidylserine-containing liposomes on lipopolysaccharide-induced impairment of long-term potentiation in the rat hippocampus. J Neuroimmunol 151:12-23 (2004).
  2. Akbar et al. Docosahexaenoic acid: a positive modulator of Akt signaling in neuronal survival. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102(31):10858-63 (2005).

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