Omega 6 Linked to Alzheimer's Risk
Researchers at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease (GNID) and the University of California have found that a fatty acid found in healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits and nuts, could harm brain cells and increase the risk of getting Alzheimer's.
The brains of normal mice and mice genetically engineered to have an Alzheimer's-like condition were compared by the scientists. They found raised levels of a fatty acid called arachidonic acid in the hippocampus area of the brains of the Alzheimer's mice (the hippocampus is a memory center that is severely affected by Alzheimer's disease). Arachidonic acid is used to make the blood-brain barrier. It is this barrier that protects the neurons in the brain from being contaminated by toxins as it filters the blood stream entering it.
The research findings suggest that too much arachidonic acid may be harmful as it might over-stimulate brain cells. Lowering their levels, through diet or drugs, may lower the levels and return the brain to functioning normally.
The scientist's work, published in Nature Neuroscience, may provide a new treatment approach to Alzheimer's disease in the future. But caution is advised. It is not clear if their findings on mice will translate to humans, so more research is needed.
Rene O Sanchez-Mejia, John W Newman, Sandy Toh, Gui-Qiu Yu, Yungui Zhou, Brian Halabisky, Moustapha Cissé, Kimberly Scearce-Levie, Irene H Cheng, Li Gan, Jorge J Palop, Joseph V Bonventre & Lennart Mucke. (2008) Phospholipase A2 reduction ameliorates cognitive deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease." Nature Neuroscience.