Neuronal and synaptic membranes are composed of a phospholipid bilayer. Supplementation with dietary precursors for phospholipid synthesis -docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), uridine and choline- has been shown to increase neurite outgrowth and synaptogenesis bothin vivoandin vitro. A role for multi-nutrient intervention with specific precursors and cofactors has recently emerged in early Alzheimer's disease, which is characterized by decreased synapse numbers in the hippocampus. Moreover, the medical food Souvenaid, containing the specific nutrient combination Fortasyn Connect (FC), improves memory performance in early Alzheimer's disease patients, possibly via maintaining brain connectivity. This suggests an effect of FC on synapses, but the underlying cellular mechanism is not fully understood. Therefore, we investigated the effect of FC (consisting of DHA, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), uridine, choline, phospholipids, folic acid, vitamins B12, B6, C and E, and selenium), on synaptogenesis by supplementing it to primary neuron-astrocyte co-cultures, a cellular model that mimics metabolic dependencies in the brain. We measured neuronal developmental processes using high content screening in an automated manner, including neuronal survival, neurite morphology, as well as the formation and maturation of synapses. Here, we show that FC supplementation resulted in increased numbers of neurons without affecting astrocyte number. Furthermore, FC increased postsynaptic PSD95 levels in both immature and mature synapses. These findings suggest that supplementation with FC to neuron-astrocyte co-cultures increased both neuronal survival and the maturation of postsynaptic terminals, which might aid the functional interpretation of FC-based intervention strategies in neurological diseases characterized by neuronal loss and impaired synaptic functioning.
- Journal Article