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Improved spatial learning and memory by perilla diet is correlated with immunoreactivities to neurofilament and α-synuclein in hilus of dentate gyrus

Jinwoo Lee, Sunmin Park, Ju-Young Lee, Yeong Keun Yeo, Jong Sang Kim and Jinkyu Lim*

Author Affiliations

Major in Food Biomaterials, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, 702-701, South Korea

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Proteome Science 2012, 10:72  doi:10.1186/1477-5956-10-72

Published: 5 December 2012



Perilla (Perilla frutescens) oil is very rich in α-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. As it is widely reported that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improves cognitive function in children and adults, feeding rats with perilla diets followed by analysis of proteomic changes in the hippocampus can provide valuable information on the mechanism of learning and memory at the molecular level. To identify proteins playing roles in learning and memory, differentially expressed proteins in the hippocampus of the 5 week old rats fed perilla diets for 3 weeks or 3 months were identified by proteomic analysis and validated by immunological assays.


The perilla diet groups showed improved spatial learning and memory performances in a T-maze test. They also displayed elevated level of 22:6n-3 fatty acid, an omega-3 fatty acid (p<0.05), in the brain compared to the control diet group. Quantitative proteomic analysis using 2-D gels as well as functional annotation grouping with the differentially expressed proteins in the hippocampus showed that those proteins involved in cytoskeleton and transport were the major differentially expressed proteins in the 3-week group, whereas those involved in energy metabolism, neuron projection and apoptosis in addition to cytoskeleton and transport were the major ones in the 3 month group. Differential protein expression in the hippocampus was validated by Western blotting using four selected proteins, known to be involved in synaptic plasticity; AMPA receptor, neurofilament, α-synuclein, and β-soluble NSF attachment protein. Brain sections from the perilla-diet groups showed enhanced immunoreactivities to α-synuclein and neurofilament. Especially, neurofilament immunoreactive cells manifested longer neurite projections in the hilus of dentate gyrus of the perilla-diet groups.


Improved cognitive function upon administration of n-3 fatty acid-rich perilla diet is associated with the differential expression of hippocampal proteins related to cytoskeleton, energy metabolism, transport, neuro-projection, and apoptosis. Particularly, the enhanced immunoreactivities to α-synuclein and neurofilament in the hilus of dentate gyrus suggest that perilla diet supplementation promotes neuronal signaling and alters synaptic plasticity for improved learning and memory.

Perilla; n-3 fatty acid; Cognition; Hippocampus; Proteome; 2-D gel; Immunohistochemistry