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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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Travelling To Space May Alter Brain, Says Study

Upon return to Earth, this process is then gradually reversed, which then results in a relative reduction of white matter volume

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Keplar, NASA
According to co-author Andrew Casey, it was previously believed that the first stars that formed in the universe could not possibly still exist today. VOA

Spending long periods in space not only leads to muscle atrophy and reductions in bone density, it also has lasting effects on the brain, suggests a study.

The study, led by a team of neuroscientists from the University of Antwerp in Belgium and Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) of Munich, showed that differential changes in the three main tissue volumes of the brain remain detectable for at least half a year after the end of their last mission.

“Our results point to prolonged changes in the pattern of cerebrospinal fluid circulation over a period of at least seven months following the return to Earth,” said professor Peter zu Eulenburg from the LMU.

“However, whether or not the extensive alterations shown in the grey and the white matter lead to any changes in cognition remains unclear at present,” he added.

The study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, was carried out on ten cosmonauts, each of whom had spent an average of 189 days on board the International Space Station (ISS).

The magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) scans performed in the days after the return to Earth revealed that the volume of the grey matter was reduced compared to before launch.

ISS Launched First satellite For Cleaning Space Junk
Space travel can alter brain: Study, Pixabay

Seven months later, this effect was partly reversed, but nevertheless still detectable.

In contrast, the volume of the cerebrospinal fluid, which fills the inner and outer cavities of the brain, increased within the cortex during long-term exposure to microgravity.

Further, the white matter tissue volume (those parts of the brain that are primarily made up of nerve fibres) appeared to be unchanged upon investigation immediately after landing.

But, the subsequent examination six months later showed a widespread reduction in volume relative to both earlier measurements.

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In this case, the team postulated that over the course of a longer stint in space, the volume of the white matter may slowly be replaced by an influx of cerebrospinal fluid.

Upon return to Earth, this process is then gradually reversed, which then results in a relative reduction of white matter volume.

According to the researchers, further studies using a wider range of diagnostic methods are deemed essential, to minimise the risks associated with long-term missions and to characterise any clinical significance of the findings. (IANS)