The Pivotal Roles Of Docosahexaenoic Acid In The Evolution And Function Of The Brain | 12542
Journal of Alzheimers Disease & Parkinsonism
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The fossil record displays the first and sudden appearance of intracellular detail and the 32 phyla during the ?Cambrian
Explosion? about 600 million years ago. The intracellular structures were made with membrane lipids which provided for
organisation and specialisation. Oxidative metabolism had increased the potential for making highly unsaturated fatty acids and
thus producing a new and great variety of lipid molecular species available for the different functions cell membranes which
became specialised and led to speciation. Synthesis of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) required 6 oxygen atoms just to insert the
6 double bonds. It was one of the many molecules created by oxidative metabolism. It provided the basic membrane core of the
new photoreceptors that converted photons into electricity and stimulated the evolution of the nervous system and the brain.
Since then, DHA has been conserved as the principle component of photoreceptor, synaptic and neuronal signalling membranes
in the cephalopods, fish, amphibian, reptiles, birds, mammals and humans. This extreme conservation in electrical signalling
membranes despite great genomic change suggests it was DHA dictating to the DNA rather than the generally accepted other way
around. We offer a theoretical explanation based on quantum mechanical properties of DHA, its ?-electrons which provide the
precision in photoreception and neural signalling not readily explained otherwise.
?We learn from the past to awaken the future? (JFK), This past history puts DHA as a pivotal game player in the evolution
of the human brain through both its epigenetic influence on gene expression via its action as a nuclear receptor as witnessed
in its enhancement of neurogenesis and synaptic formation and the robust evidence regarding the nutritional requirement for
structure and function in learning, behaviour and sensory perception. DHA would have been available to early humans during
their coastal occupation for which evidence exists dating back to the earliest appearance of humans to recent history leading to
maritime exploration. The consequent population expansions saw people moving inland and losing the DHA rich food resources
which included the loss of iodine and other trace elements also essential to brain development. .
The resultant loss and change in nutritional practice now threatens security of neural development. Brain disorders have now
overtaken all other burdens of ill health. In 2004 the cost was ?386 billion for the EU. A re-assessment in 2010 put the cost at ?789
billion. The cost of mental ill-health was assessed in the UK in 2007 by the Department for Health at ?77 billion. This was a cost
greater than heart disease and cancer combined! When reassessed in 2011 the cost came in at ?105 billion.
This rise in brain disorders and mental ill-health was predicted by us in 1972 based on the evidence available then on the
nutritional requirements for the brain, the changing food structure and its composition. The evidence on DHA as required for
the brain has been re-affirmed in each of the 3 joint FAO-WHO international consultations on the role of dietary fats in human
nutrition (1978, 1994 and 2010).
Different regions of the brain have different membrane lipid requirements. We now have good evidence from magnetic
resonance imaging of regional distortions during prenatal development. Depending on whether these are in connectivity, or
adverse regional developments, such developmental distortions could lead to different disorders of lifelong consequences from
cerebral palsy to autism, epilepsy, and learning. Behavioural and visual difficulties.
The continued rise in brain disorders and mental ill-health this century in the way that heart disease rose in the early part of
last century represents the greatest threat to the sustainability of humanity.
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