Changes in PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid) metabolism can cause mental retardation and cognitive impairment. However, it is still unclear why altered levels of PUFAs result in neuronal dysfunction. Recent studies on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans suggest that PUFA depletion may cause cognitive impairment by compromising communication among neurons. Pharmacological and electrophysiological experiments showed that animals devoid of most PUFAs release abnormally low levels of neurotransmitters. In addition, ultrastructural analysis revealed that synapses in these mutants are severely depleted of synaptic vesicles. The conclusion of these studies is that PUFAs are required to maintain a normal pool of synaptic vesicles at pre-synaptic sites, thus ensuring efficient neurotransmission.
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Conference Article| January 20 2006
Polyunsaturated fatty acids and neurotransmission in Caenorhabditis elegans
G.M. Lesa 1
* MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, U.K.
† Department of Physiology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, U.K.
1 To whom correspondence should be addressed, at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, U.K. (email Giovanni.Lesa@ucl.ac.uk).
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E. Marza, G.M. Lesa; Polyunsaturated fatty acids and neurotransmission in Caenorhabditis elegans. Biochem Soc Trans 1 February 2006; 34 (1): 77–80. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BST0340077
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