Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) provided the basic membrane backbone of the new photoreceptors that converted photons into electricity laying the foundation for the evolution of the nervous system and the brain. Role of DHA in the brain, its extreme conservation in signaling systems with its possible relevance to human evolution.
Neural cells have a particularly high membrane content of DHA. DHA is rapidly and selectively incorporated in neural membranes and is concentrated at synaptic signalling sites
DHA is essential to brain development and function.
DHA are needed for the growth and development of the brain and its function
Neuronal apoptosis under adverse conditions is prevented by DHA enrichment.
DHA activates neurite outgrowth at low micro molar concentrations with a remarkable effect on morphological differentiation of hippocampal neurons which is achieved by increasing the population of neurons with more branches and longer neurites.
DHA being selectively rich in neural systems, its neuroprotectins also protects against neural cell damage, most likely those associated with aging and Alzheimer ’s disease.
DHA is selected for membranes of the eye and brain over 600 million years of genomic change and evolution. The more enriched the synapse the better its function which is the converse of the ω3 deficiency experiment which depresses learning ability. Proposed function of DHA would facilitate conduction of a signal and the establishment and function of a neural pathway.
The brain first evolved in the marine environment utilizing marine nutrients of which clearly DHA was a key for neural systems The use of DHA in neural signalling systems
over a 600 million year stretch of evolution is compelling evidence for its essentiality.