Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DHA-rich diet protects brain from Alzheimer’s damage

02.09.2004


Omega-3 fatty acid may prevent Alzheimer’s disease and slow its progression



UCLA neuroscientists have shown for the first time that a diet high in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA helps protect the brain against the memory loss and cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The new research suggests that a DHA-rich diet may lower one’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease and may help slow progression of the disorder in its later stages. The journal Neuron reported the findings on Sept. 2. "This is the first proof that our diets affect how our brain cells communicate with each other under the duress of Alzheimer’s disease," explained Greg Cole, Ph.D., senior author and a professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "We saw that a diet rich in DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, dramatically reduces the impact of the Alzheimer’s gene.

"Consuming more DHA is something the average person can easily control," added Cole, associate director of the UCLA Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. "Anyone can buy DHA in its purified form, fish-oil capsules, high-fat fish or DHA-supplemented eggs."


Cole and his colleagues focused on Alzheimer’s damage to synapses – the chemical connections between brain cells that enable memory and learning.

By using mice bred with genetic mutations that cause the brain lesions linked to advanced Alzheimer’s disease, the UCLA researchers created a mouse model to test environmental risk factors for the disorder. When the mice developed the lesions, but showed minimal memory loss or synaptic brain damage, however, the scientists took a closer look at the animals’ diet. "We discovered that the mice lived on a nutritious diet of soy and fish – two ingredients chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids," said Sally Frautschy, Ph.D., co-author and an associate professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Because earlier studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may prevent Alzheimer’s disease, we realized that the mice’s diet could be countering the very thing we were trying to accomplish – showing the progression of the Alzheimer’s-related brain damage," she added.

The UCLA team swapped safflower oil for the soy and fish to create an unhealthful diet depleted of omega-3 fatty acids. They divided the animals into two sets of older mice, which already showed brain lesions but displayed no major loss of brain-cell activity. The researchers placed both groups on the new diet, but fed the second group DHA supplements from algae.

After five months, the researchers compared each set of mice to a control group that consumed the same diet but did not carry the Alzheimer’s genes. The results surprised them. "We found high amounts of synaptic damage in the brains of the Alzheimer’s-diseased mice that ate the DHA-depleted diet," observed Frautschy. "These changes closely resembled those we see in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease."

Although the mice on the DHA-supplemented diet also carried the Alzheimer’s genes, they still performed much better in memory testing than the mice in the first group. "After adjusting for all possible variables, DHA was the only factor remaining that protected the mice against the synaptic damage and memory loss that should have resulted from their Alzheimer’s genes," said Cole. "We concluded that the DHA-enriched diet was holding their genetic disease at bay."

Frautschy and Cole plan to parlay their findings into a new study focused on tracking DHA-related biomarkers in the urine and cerebral spinal fluid of Alzheimer’s disease patients. "If we can detect biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease earlier, we can intervene with treatment sooner," noted Cole.

The human brain absorbs DHA rapidly, making a constant supply critical for proper cognitive function, eye development and mental tasks. DHA helps keep the brain membrane fluid, moves proteins and helps to convert signals from other parts of the body into action.

Cheap sources of DHA include coldwater fish, like salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and herring. These fish consume algae, which is high in DHA.

Because these fishes’ oiliness makes them absorb more mercury, dioxin, PCP and other metals, however, a less risky yet more costly strategy is to consume fish oil or purified DHA supplements made from algae. Other options include DHA-rich eggs laid by chickens that eat DHA-supplemented feed.

Elaine Schmidt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucla.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Correct connections are crucial
26.06.2017 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>