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Alzheimer’s disease linked to several unsaturated fatty acids in the brain: Study

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Cognitive Impairment
Alzheimer's disease patient Isidora Tomaz, 82, sits in an armchair in her house in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s predicted that by 2050, 135 million Americans are going to suffer from mild cognitive impairment, a precursor of Alzheimer's. VOA
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London, March 23, 2017: Researchers have found that several unsaturated fatty acids in the brain may be associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, which causes impaired memory, executive function and language. It accounts for 60-80 per cent of total dementia cases worldwide, with over 46 million people suffering from the disease worldwide. The number of patients is estimated to rise to 131.5 million by 2050.

Currently, it is thought that the main reason for developing memory problems in dementia is the presence of two big molecules in the brain called tau and amyloid proteins — that are shown to start accumulating in the brain up to 20 years prior to the onset of the disease.

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However, the findings, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, showed that the metabolism of omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids were significantly decreased in Alzheimer’s brains when compared to brains from healthy patients.

“Our results show a potentially crucial and unexpected role for fats in the onset of dementia. Most surprisingly, we found that a supposedly beneficial omega-3, DHA, actually increased with the progression of the disease,” said Cristina Legido Quigley from King’s College London.

In the study, the team looked at brain tissue samples from 43 people ranging in age from 57 to 95 years old.

The researchers then measured the metabolite levels of the brain regions that are commonly associated with neurodegerative diseases — the middle frontal gyrus and the inferior temporal gyrus — as well as the metabolite levels in a brain area that is not normally affected by the disease’s pathology — the cerebellum.

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The results showed that unsaturated fatty acid metabolism is significantly dysregulated in the brains of patients with varying degrees of Alzheimer pathology.

The main molecules that were different were six small fats — docosahexaenoic acid, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and oleic acid — including omegas, which changed in abundance in different regions of the brain. (IANS)

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Scientists Develop Potential Approach to Treat Dementia, Stroke

"It also shows that these changes may be reversible, paving the way for potential treatments," Williams added

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dementia
The article provides information on the topic "Scientists Develop Potential Approach to Treat Dementia, Stroke". (IANS)

Stopping blood vessel cells from becoming dysfunctional may reverse the symptoms of small vessel disease (SVD) — major cause of dementia and stroke — and prevent brain damage in older adults, scientists have found.

The study, led by the University of Edinburgh, found that SVD occurs when cells that line the small blood vessels in the brain become dysfunctional causing them to secrete a molecule into the brain.

The molecule stops production of the protective layer that surrounds brain cells — called myelin — leading to brain damage.

“This important research helps us understand why small vessel disease happens, providing a direct link between small blood vessels and changes in the brain that are linked to dementia,” said Anna Williams from University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Scotland.

“It also shows that these changes may be reversible, paving the way for potential treatments,” Williams added.

1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia. Pixabay
1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia. Pixabay

In the study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team used rat model and found that treating them with drugs that can reverse changes in blood vessels in the brain associated with cerebral small vessel disease.

“The findings highlight a promising direction for research into treatments that could limit the damaging effects of blood vessel changes and help keep nerve cells functioning for longer,” said Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research in Britain.

Also Read: Sleep Disorder Linked with Brain Changes Found in Dementia

However, further studies are needed to test whether the treatment also works when the disease is firmly established, researchers said.

Dementia is one of the biggest problems facing society, as people live longer and the population ages.

Estimates indicate there are almost 47 million people living with dementia worldwide and the numbers affected are expected to double every 20 years, rising to more than 115 million by 2050. (IANS)