Research led by Nicolas Bazan (photo), MD, PhD, Boyd Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans, has discovered a new class of molecules in the brain that synchronize cell-to-cell communication and neuroinflammation/immune activity in response to injury or diseases. Elovanoids (ELVs) are bioactive chemical messengers made from omega-3 very-long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (VLC-PUFAs, n-3). They are released on demand when cells are damaged or stressed. "Although we knew about messengers from omega-3 fatty acids such as neuroprotectin D1 (22 carbons) before, the novelty of the present discovery is that elovanoids are made of 32 to 34 carbon atoms in length," notes Dr. Bazan. "We expect that these structures will profoundly increase our understanding of cellular cross talk to sustain neuronal circuitry and particularly to restore cell equilibrium after pathological insults." Working in neuronal cell cultures from the cerebral cortex and from the hippocampus and a model of ischemic stroke, the researchers found that elovanoids not only protected neuronal cells and promoted their survival, but helped maintain their integrity and stability.
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