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Fatty Acids May Play Role in Alzheimer’s

roleScientists have found that complete or partial removal of an enzyme that regulates fatty acid levels improves cognitive deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

The new research identified specific fatty acids that may contribute to the disease as well as a novel therapeutic strategy.

Alzheimer’s disease causes a progressive loss of cognitive functions and results in death. Over 5 million Americans are living with this condition. Although there are treatments to ease the symptoms, these treatments are not very effective and researchers have yet to discover a cure.

“Several different proteins have been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease,” said Lennart Mucke, M.D., Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease director and senior author of the study, “but we wanted to know more about the potential involvement of lipids and fatty acids.”

Fatty acids are rapidly taken up by the brain and incorporated into phospholipids, a class of fats that form the membrane or barrier that shields the content of cells from the external environment.

The scientists used a large scale profiling approach (“lipidomics”) to compare many different fatty acids in the brains of normal mice with those in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease that develops memory deficits and many pathological alterations seen in the human condition.

“The most striking change we discovered in the Alzheimer mice was an increase in arachidonic acid and related metabolites in the hippocampus, a memory center that is affected early and severely by Alzheimer’s disease,” said Rene Sanchez-Mejia, M.D., lead author of the study.

In the brain arachidonic acid is released from phospholipids by an enzyme called group IVA phospholipase A2 (or PLA2). The scientists lowered PLA2 levels in the Alzheimer mice by genetic engineering. Removal or even partial reduction of PLA2 prevented memory deficits and other behavioral abnormalities in the Alzheimer mice.

“Arachidonic acid likely wreaks havoc in the Alzheimer mice by causing too much excitation, which makes neurons sick. By lowering arachidonic acid levels, we are allowing neurons to function normally,” said Dr. Sanchez-Mejia.

Dr. Mucke added, “in general, fatty acid levels can be regulated by diet or drugs. Our results have important therapeutic implications because they suggest that inhibition of PLA2 activity might help prevent neurological impairments in Alzheimer’s disease. But a lot more work needs to be done before this novel therapeutic strategy can be tested in humans.”

The findings were published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Source: Gladstone Institute

Fatty Acids May Play Role in Alzheimer’s

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Fatty Acids May Play Role in Alzheimer’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/10/20/fatty-acids-may-play-role-in-alzheimers/3160.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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