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Scientific reports

Natural lecithin promotes neural network complexity and activity.


PMID 27228907

Abstract

Phospholipids in the brain cell membranes contain different polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are critical to nervous system function and structure. In particular, brain function critically depends on the uptake of the so-called "essential" fatty acids such as omega-3 (n-3) and omega-6 (n-6) PUFAs that cannot be readily synthesized by the human body. We extracted natural lecithin rich in various PUFAs from a marine source and transformed it into nanoliposomes. These nanoliposomes increased neurite outgrowth, network complexity and neural activity of cortical rat neurons in vitro. We also observed an upregulation of synapsin I (SYN1), which supports the positive role of lecithin in synaptogenesis, synaptic development and maturation. These findings suggest that lecithin nanoliposomes enhance neuronal development, which may have an impact on devising new lecithin delivery strategies for therapeutic applications.