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Wei Hao, Jia Song, Gang Li
(Department of Pediatrics, Shandong Provincial Hospital Affiliated to Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong, China (mainland))
Med Sci Monit 2018; 24:2631-2638
Bilirubin encephalopathy is a serious complication in neonatal jaundice and is associated with high mortality and disability in newborns. The present study aimed to investigate the neuroprotective effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFA) on bilirubin encephalopathy in vitro and in vivo.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: The cytotoxicity of unconjugated bilirubin (UCB) to neurons and neuroprotection of ω-3 PUFA were investigated using MTT assays and apoptosis evaluations. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) enzyme activity were measured to investigate the anti-oxidative effect of ω-3 PUFA. The differences between eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were also compared. The in vivo neuroprotective effect of DHA was demonstrated in neonatal rats with bilirubin encephalopathy by bilirubin monitoring, neuron-specific enolase (NSE) monitoring, H&E staining of brain tissue, and apoptosis rate evaluations.
RESULTS: Omega-3 PUFA reduced the rate of apoptosis induced by UCB and increased SOD and CAT enzyme activity for anti-oxidation. DHA did not reduce the bilirubin in the serum of neonatal rats with bilirubin encephalopathy, but did reduce the damage caused by bilirubin with decreased NSE and apoptosis rate as well as improved neuron morphology.
CONCLUSIONS: Omega-3 PUFA, particularly DHA, can reduce neurological damage in neonatal rats with bilirubin encephalopathy by increasing anti-apoptosis and anti-oxidation effects against UCB, providing a theoretical basis for the clinical treatment of bilirubin encephalopathy in newborns.