Monday, October 20, 2008

Altering brain chemistry through dietary means: implications from Alzheimer’s research

A BBC Science article on the animal Alzheimer studies caught my attention because of the reference to altering brain function through dietary changes. Emphases mine …

BBC NEWS | Health | Fatty acids clue to Alzheimer's

Controlling the level of a fatty acid in the brain could help treat Alzheimer's disease, an American study has suggested.

Tests on mice showed that reducing excess levels of the acid lessened animals' memory problems and behavioural changes.

Writing in Nature Neuroscience, the team said fatty acid levels could be controlled through diet or drugs

… Scientists from Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease and the University of California looked at fatty acids in the brains of normal mice and compared them with those in mice genetically engineered to have an Alzheimer's-like condition.

They identified raised levels of a fatty acid called arachidonic acid in the brains of the Alzheimer's mice …

… Its release is controlled by the PLA2 enzyme.

The scientists again used genetic engineering to lower PLA2 levels in the animals, and found that even a partial reduction halted memory deterioration and other impairments.

Dr Rene Sanchez-Mejia, who worked on the study, said: "The most striking change we discovered in the Alzheimer's mice was an increase in arachidonic acid and related metabolites [products] in the hippocampus, a memory centre that is affected early and severely by Alzheimer's disease."

He suggested too much arachidonic acid might over-stimulate brain cells, and that lowering levels allowed them to function normally…

I doubt this will end up being all that important for Alzheimer’s prevention, but it’s interesting as another hint that we might be able to alter behavior in children and adults with cognitive and behavior disorders through dietary interventions.

I tried looking for more discussions on this general topic, but I found very little. Seems far fetched for now, but I’ll keep an eye open.

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