Dr. Nicolas Bazan at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans says docosahexaenoic acid -- a component of fish oil -- is a powerful therapeutic agent that can protect brain tissue and promote stroke recovery.
"We are just now beginning to understand the significant impact of omega-3 essential fatty acids on stroke," Bazan says in statement. "There is no simple solution just yet, but each new discovery brings us closer to defeating stroke and other debilitating neurodegenerative diseases."
Bazan and colleagues compared DHA and saline administered intravenously at 3, 4, 5, and 6 hours after the onset of stroke in rats.
The study, published in Translational Stroke Research, found animals receiving DHA had reduced neurological deficits, reduced swelling and better neurobehavioral recovery. The area of destroyed tissue was reduced by an average of 59 percent at 5 hours.
DHA triggered production of Neuroprotectin D1, a naturally occurring neuroprotective molecule in the brain discovered by Bazan who says DHA treatment not only salvaged brain tissue that would have died, its repair mechanisms rendered some areas indistinguishable from normal tissue by seven days.