The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 18 No. 5 • September 2015


As I indicated before, emerging links may be emerging or they may have been hiding out in the immense scientific literature waiting for you to run across them, but in any event, I am now aware of papers that provide a plausible link between the cholinergic nervous system, fish oils (EPA and DHA), and estrogens. (Don’t think this just applies to women; men have estrogens, too.)

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid because of estrogenic effects. This may link estrogen, the cholinergic nervous system, and cognition (as reviewed above). Gilray et al. Docosahexaenoic acid concentrations are higher in women than in men because of estrogenic effects. Am J Clin Nutr. 80:1167-74 (2004) inflammation and the cholinergic system and DHA.

“The soluble form of amyloid protein (sAPP) released from neurons activates microglia [a type of immune cell in the brain] and induces excessive microglial expression of IL-1 [an inflammatory cytokine]. IL-1 increases the production and activity of the acetylchol-degrading enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which results in a decrease in brain acetylcholine levels.” Here, part of the Alzheimer’s disease process is revealed to be an increased expression of an inflammatory cytokine, which decreases brain acetylcholine levels. The cholinergic nervous system in which acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter is a major antiinflammatory regulatory system in the brain and body. DHA, on the other hand, is also an antiinflammatory molecule in the brain when converted to Neuroprotectin D1. DHA inhibits the formation of proinflammatory molecules such as the prostaglandin PGE2 (Das, 2008).


  • Das, “Essential fatty acids and their metabolites could function as endogenous HMG-CoA reductase and ACE enzyme inhibitors, anti-arrhythmic, anti-hypertensive, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-inflammatory, cytoprotective, and cardioprotective molecules. Lipids Health Dis. 7:37 (2008).

“Prostanoids represent another key component of neuro-inflammation. Particularly, PGE2 is highly synthesized in the brain during inflammation.” (Laye, 2003) For more on PGE2, see the two-part paper by Sandy Shaw on the niacin flush at


  • Laye and Dantzer. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Neuro-Inflammation. In: Yehuda and Mostofsky, editors. Nutrients, Stress, and Medical Disorders. New York: Humana Press; (2005). P. 353-76.

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