A deficiency in essential fatty acid metabolism has been reported in diabetes. Nutritional supplementations with (n-6) or (n-3) PUFA have differential efficiency on parameters of diabetic neuropathy, including nerve conduction velocity (NCV) and nerve blood flow (NBF). The aim of this study was to compare the neuroprotective effects of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)-lipoic acid (LA) conjugate (GLA-LA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-enriched phospholipids (PL) supplementations on NCV and NBF. Streptozotocin-induced diabetic (D) and control (C) rats were supplemented for 8 wk with either DHA-enriched PL at a dose of 30 mg.kg-1.d-1 (DDHA and CDHA) or with corn oil enriched with GLA-LA at a dose of 30 mg.kg-1.d-1 (DGLA and CGLA). Moreover, a C and D group received no supplementation. After 8 wk, NCV (-30%) and NBF (-50%) were lower in the D group than in the C group. Supplementation with GLA-LA totally prevented the decrease in NCV and NBF in the DGLA group, in which values did not differ from group C. Supplementation with DHA only partially prevented the decrease in NCV in the DDHA group, in which value was different from groups C and D and did not affect NBF. We conclude that at the low doses used, supplementation with GLA-LA is more effective than supplementation with DHA in preventing experimental diabetic neuropathy. The difference could be due in part to an antioxidant protective effect of LA on GLA.
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