The essentiality of arachidonic acid in addition to docosahexaenoic acid for brain growth and function

Akiko Harauma, Hidemi Yasuda, Erisa Hatanaka, Manabu T. Nakamura, Norman Salem, Toru Moriguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The essentiality of arachidonic acid (ARA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for growth and brain function using delta-6-desaturase knockout (D6D-KO) mice and a novel artificial rearing method was investigated. Newborn male wild type (WT) and homozygous D6D-KO pups were separated from their dams within 48 h and fed artificial milk containing α-linolenic acid and linoleic acid (Cont), or supplemented with ARA, DHA or both (ARA+DHA). After weaning, each group was fed diets similar to artificial milk in fatty acid composition for 7 weeks. KO-Cont showed a lower body weight than WT-Cont. When ARA was added to the control diet, (KO-ARA and KO-ARA+DHA diets) the body weight gain was restored. The KO-DHA group was initially similar to the WT groups for the first 6 weeks, but afterwards their body weight was significantly lower. Brain weight in the 10 week old KO-ARA+DHA group was significantly higher within the KO dietary groups. Motor activity of the KO-ARA and KO-ARA+DHA groups was elevated relative to the KO-Cont group but the KO-ARA+DHA group exhibited similar activity to the WT-Cont group. In the motor coordination ability test, the KO-Cont group performed significantly worse compared with the WT-Cont group. KO-ARA mice showed decreased motor coordination in spite of their increased motor activity. The best performance was observed in only KO-ARA+DHA mice. These experiments demonstrated that supplementation with only ARA or only DHA was insufficient for optimal development. ARA was essential for normal growth within the lactation period. In conclusion, only the combination of preformed ARA and DHA was capable of improving the dysfunction caused by D6D deficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-18
Number of pages10
JournalProstaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Arachidonic acid
  • Brain function
  • Delta-6-desaturase
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Essential fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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