Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dates, cranberries, red grapes and an espresso after – could this be the anti-Alzheimer’s diet?

18.01.2007
New research suggests that oxidative stress – which results from an accumulation of free radicals – is involved in the neurodegeneration observed in dementias such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, whilst the administration of anti-oxidants has the opposite effect and so might help in the control of these types of diseases.

The research done by Doras Dias-Santagata, a Portuguese scientist, and colleagues, just published in the “Journal of Clinical Investigation” is exciting news for neurodegenerative patients all over the world.

Fruit becomes brown and butter becomes rancid - these are some of the everyday effects of oxidative stress. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that result from the body energy producing mechanisms, and which are capable of oxidising and damaging DNA, proteins and cells in general. Oxidative stress (OS) by free radicals is fast becoming “the”[the] medical buzzword, with a growing number of diseases, from cancer to cataracts or just ageing, associated with it. Under normal circumstances the body is capable of neutralising free radicals by producing anti-oxidants but in modern societies things are not that balanced anymore. In fact, environmental factors and changes in our lifestyles, which have lead to exposure to higher levels of pollution and poor quality diets, mean that we are exposed to free radicals more than ever before. Brain cells are known to be specially sensitive to degeneration by these molecules and, worryingly, signs of OS have already been found in the brains of patients with several neurodegenerative dementias such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer’ and Huntington's disease. However, whether OS is a cause or a result of disease is not clear.

To answer this question Dora Dias-Santagata, Mel B. Feany and colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and Howard University in Washington decided to analyse the effect of different levels of oxidative stress in an Alzheimer’s model of fruit flies. In fact, most neurodegenerative dementias are characterised by having around the destroyed brain areas abnormal deposits of proteins which are believed to participate in the neurodegeneration. Dias-Santagata’s flies have been mutated to have aberrant deposits of one such protein, tau (found in Alzheimer’s brains) and show large destructed areas in their nervous system.

The team of researchers used two different approaches while testing OS effects in the fruit flies: on one hand they manipulated genes responsible for the production of anti-oxidant proteins and on the other hand administered vitamin E, a powerful anti-oxidant, to the mutant flies.

Dias-Santagata and colleagues found that reduction in the activity of two anti-oxidant proteins - SOD and Trxr – by genetic manipulation led to increasing neurodegeneration in the brain of the mutant flies, while administration of vitamin E had the opposite effect. Control flies without tau, and consequently no signs of neurodegeneration, were not affected by either the genetic or the pharmacological manipulation. Both results strongly suggest that oxidative stress plays an important role in neurodegenerative dementias, at least in those where tau is involved, and if controlled can help controlling the disease. But they also indicate that, at least in this model, OS is not a primary cause for the illness.

Another interesting result of the study was to find that brain destruction in the mutated fruit flies was associated with activation of a stress-induced group of proteins called JNK. This needs to be further investigated but it might help to understand how and why neural cells die in these diseases.

In a world where more than 24 million people suffer from neurodegenerative dementias and where Alzheimer’s disease, which for now is incurable, affects more than 5% of men and women above 60 years old Dias-Santagata and colleagues’ results are very exciting. As lead author Dora Dias-Santagata says ``This is exciting because antioxidants may prove to be a good therapeutic approach to treat Alzheimer's disease and ameliorate human neurodegeneration.

Piece researched and written by: Catarina Amorim (catarina.amorim@linacre.ox.ac.uk)

Catarina Amorim | alfa
Further information:
http://www.jci.org/cgi/content/abstract/117/1/236

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified
20.02.2017 | Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

nachricht Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain
20.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>