A team of researchers at LSU Health have found that a component of fish oil helps damaged brain and retina cells survive.

Nicolas Bazan, Boyd Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has shown for the first time that NDP1, a signaling molecule made from DHA, can trigger the production of a protective protein against toxic free radicals and injury in the brain and retina.

The research was conducted in an experimental model of ischemic stroke and human retinal pigment epithelial cells.

The study was published in Advance Publication Online in Nature Research’s Cell Death and Differentiation.

Neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1) is a lipid messenger made from the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It's made on demand when cell survival is compromised.

NPD1 was discovered and named in 2004 by Dr. Bazan and colleagues. Oxidative stress, resulting from the constant production of damaging free radicals, lays the groundwork for cell death.

The research team found that when systematically administered one hour after two hours of experimental stroke, NPD1 increased the production and availability of a protein that has been named Iduna.

Iduna facilitates DNA repair and protects against a form of programmed cell death in stroke known as parthanatos by suppressing the production of a destructive protein called PARP.

DHA, found in fish oil, is an essential omega-3 fatty acid and is vital for proper brain function. It is also necessary for the development of the nervous system, including vision.

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