The effect of Omega-3 on bovine blood cells as a potential remedy for Cerebral Cavernous Malformations

(1) Vista Ridge High School, Cedar Park, Texas, (2) Westwood High School, Austin, Texas, (3) University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, (4) Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

* These authors made equal contributions
Cover photo for The effect of Omega-3 on bovine blood cells as a potential remedy for Cerebral Cavernous Malformations
Image credit: Carolien van Oijen

Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) are lesions on the brain that occur due to a genetic mutation causing high membrane permeability between endothelial cell junctions. They can cause a myriad of symptoms including seizures and aneurysms. Current treatment plans include monitoring for symptoms, tracking disease progression, and surgical correction of malformations, but therapies that target the underlying changes in cell junctions are lacking. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether dietary Omega-3 fatty acids can strengthen compromised cell junctions. The hypothesis was that Omega-3 fatty acids would strengthen the compromised cell membranes due to their high lipid content, increasing membrane thickness. The cow in the treatment group was fed an Omega-3 diet, whereas a cow in the control group was fed the standard corn gluten meal. Blood was then drawn from each of the cows to use in the subsequent studies. Using a microscope, membrane rigidity of whole bovine blood (all blood cell types) was viewed. The whole blood cells were placed in hypertonic solutions as well as isotonic solutions, altering the size of the cells. Control tests on untreated, bovine blood from the corn gluten meal diet in both hypertonic and isotonic solutions were performed for comparison. In support of the hypothesis, the addition of Omega-3 in the bovine diet resulted in an increase in the cell membrane thickness when placed in hypertonic solutions, indicating decreased membrane rigidity. Based on these results, the use of dietary Omega-3 as a possible treatment for CCM should be explored in the future.

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