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Study shows beneficial effects of omega 3 in the prevention of neurological diseases

The study showed that omega 3 increases the production of proteins that "capture" the entry of calcium into the neuron

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Foto: Stela Murgel / Unifesp
Scorza Fulvio researcher presented the study, first done in the world on the action of omega-3 in brain tissue
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Scorza Fulvio researcher presented the study, first done in the world on the action of omega-3 in brain tissue

Research by scientists at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) and other institutions indicates that omega 3 can also be a strong ally in the fight against epilepsy.

With experimental tests done on mice, researchers found that this type of fatty acid is able to minimize the death of neurons during seizures and help in the regeneration of brain tissue.

The study, published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, showed that omega-3 increases production of proteins that capture the entry of calcium into the neuron, and because of that, helping to reduce brain cell death.

In research, a group of ten mice received 85 milligrams of omega 3 per kilogram of body weight for 60 days, was administered as an innocuous substance to an equal number of animals, which served as the control group.

The researchers found that rats who received omega-3 showed significant preservation of brain tissue after the simulation of epileptic seizures, compared to the other.

It was also noted that omega 3 antiiflamatório played an important role, since the brain tissue of rats with epilepsy had previously a chronic inflammatory process.

We have results showing that omega-3 is neuroprotective and plays antiepileptic activity, said the research coordinator, Fulvio Alexandre Scorza, Associate Professor, Department of Neurology / Neurosurgery, UNIFESP and Head of Discipline of Experimental Neurology.

Scorza coordinated the project The role of omega 3 in the model of epilepsy induced by pilocarpine, conducted with support of FAPESP in the form to help Regular Research and completed in August.

This research was very important for being the first to show an action of omega 3 brain related to epilepsy, he said. The other authors of the article are Cysneiros Roberta (Mackenzie Presbyterian University), Vera Earth and Helio Machado (University of São Paulo, USP), Ricardo Arida, Marly de Albuquerque, and Scorza Carla Cavalheiro Esper (UNIFESP).

Scorza says that although there are only six other groups in the world who study sudden death in epilepsy, this is not a rare event. The odds of patients dying suddenly with many crises is three to four times higher than in individuals who have epilepsy, said.

The main risk factors in this case are continuing crises, early onset of epilepsy, many patients who are taking medications for seizure control and age (27-39 years).

As the main treatment is medicine, our proposal is the use of omega 3 through food, he said. Researcher warns of UNIFESP, however, that people with epilepsy can not abdicate its remedies. Omega-3 is just another way to minimize the crisis of the disease, he stressed.

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that affects about 1% of the population in general. Common causes include trauma during birth and in the central nervous system tumors.

In Brazil, the main cause is parasitism, especially neurocysticercosis caused by ingestion of contaminated food and water. There is the erroneous idea that this parasite comes from pork. It is a fact that if the animal is infected can pass to people. However, the main focus of contamination of the larva (Cysticercus cellulosae) is in vegetables and contaminated water, said Scorza.

The scientist points out that epilepsy is a neurological disorder, not psychiatric. This observation is important because it eliminates the prejudice around those who have the problem. Saliva does not transmit disease and not infectious. Another myth is that there needs to pull the tongue. Where we teach it to people, he said.

The study continues today in a clinical approach in humans, in partnership with researchers from the University of São Paulo in Ribeirão Preto, in which children are being analyzed with refractory epilepsy.

Another research project, he said, to evaluate febrile seizures in childhood brain to assess whether the omega 3 can reverse the situation. In general, some children who have seizures in childhood when they reach adolescence develop the first epileptic, he said.


Fish in diet

The omega 3 fats are essential to the functioning of the body and can be found in foods, mainly fish and flaxseed. The omega 3 has no side effect, but as their capsules are expensive, the recommendation is weekly intake of fish, "said Scorza.

According to him, three servings of fish per week is recommended. Salmon, tuna, anchovies and sardines are the species most suitable. But according to the researcher, one must take some precautions, since some fish are rich in omega 3, but also have considerable amounts of mercury.

This is bad especially for children and pregnant women because mercury is neurotoxic. Despite much omega 3, tuna is high in mercury. For the general population, the most feasible and most appropriate is the sardine, he said.

If the fish is a predator of smaller species may have more mercury. Another aspect is that there are species that have very little omega 3, but too much omega 6 as tilapia. Clearly we need both, but as the omega 3 is anti-inflammatory omega 6 is pro-inflammatory, or facilitate the inflammatory process. The ideal is a balance, he said.

Source: FAPESP
   Palavras-chave:   Epilepsy    Omega 3    Brain tissue    UNIFESP    Fulvio Alexandre Scorza   
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