Saturday November 17, 2018

Cholesterol Can Increase Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, Finds Research

In the case of Alzheimer's disease, the amyloid-beta molecules stick to the lipid cell membranes that contain cholesterol.

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In Alzheimer's disease, patients start losing memory, Pixabay
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Cholesterol — a molecule normally linked with cardiovascular diseases — may also play an important role in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers have found.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Chemistry, suggests that in the brain, cholesterol acts as a catalyst which triggers the formation of the toxic clusters of the amyloid-beta protein, which is a central player in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers found that cholesterol, which is one of the main components of cell walls in neurons, can trigger amyloid-beta molecules to aggregate, and their aggregation eventually leads to the formation of amyloid plaques, in a toxic chain reaction that leads to the death of brain cells.

“The levels of amyloid-beta normally found in the brain are about a thousand times lower than we require to observe it aggregating in the laboratory – so what happens in the brain to make it aggregate?” said lead author Michele Vendruscolo, Professor at Centre for Misfolding Diseases, in the University of Cambridge.

Cholesterol -- a molecule normally linked with cardiovascular diseases -- may also play an important role in the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease, researchers have found.
Junk Food is highly rich in Cholesterol, pixabay

For the study, using a kinetic approach, the researchers found in vitro studies that the presence of cholesterol in cell membranes can act as a trigger for the aggregation of amyloid-beta.

Since amyloid-beta is normally present in such small quantities in the brain, the molecules don’t normally find each other and stick together. Amyloid-beta does attach itself to lipid molecules, however, which are sticky and insoluble, the researcher said.

In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, the amyloid-beta molecules stick to the lipid cell membranes that contain cholesterol.

Also Read: Small Head Blows Can Also Increase Risk of Dementia 

Once stuck close together on these cell membranes, the amyloid-beta molecules have a greater chance to come into contact with each other and start to aggregate – in fact, the researchers found that cholesterol speeds up the aggregation of amyloid-beta by a factor of 20.

“The question for us now is not how to eliminate cholesterol from the brain, but about how to control cholesterol’s role in Alzheimer’s disease through the regulation of its interaction with amyloid-beta,” Vendruscolo said.

“We’re not saying that cholesterol is the only trigger for the aggregation process, but it’s certainly one of them,” Vendruscolo added. (IANS)

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Managing Cholesterol May Reduce The Risk of Alzheimer’s: Researchers

The researchers confirmed their findings in a large genetic study of healthy adults

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alzheimer's, cholesterol
One hemisphere of a healthy brain (L) is pictured next to one hemisphere of a brain of a person suffering from Alzheimer disease. VOA

Managing cholesterol might help reduce Alzheimer’s risk, says researchers, including one of Indian-origin, who identified a genetic link between the progressive brain disorder and heart disease.

Examining DNA from more than 1.5 million people, the study showed that risk factors for heart disease such as elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels (HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol) were genetically related to Alzheimer’s risk.

However, genes that contribute to other cardiovascular risk factors, like body mass index and Type-2 diabetes, did not seem to contribute to genetic risk for Alzheimer’s.

Cognitive Impairment, cholesterol
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

“The genes that influenced lipid metabolism were the ones that also were related to Alzheimer’s disease risk,” said Celeste M. Karch, Assistant Professor at the Washington University’s School of Medicine.

Thus, if the right genes and proteins could be targeted, it may be possible to lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease in some people by managing their cholesterol and triglycerides, added Rahul S. Desikan, Assistant Professor at the UCSF.

For the study, published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, the team

identified points of DNA that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and also heighten the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

alzheimer's, cholesterol
AI technique can boost brain scans to predict Alzheimer early. Pixabay

The team looked at differences in the DNA of people with factors that contribute to heart disease or Alzheimer’s disease and identified 90 points across the genome that were associated with risk for both diseases.

Their analysis confirmed that six of the 90 regions had very strong effects on Alzheimer’s and heightened blood lipid levels, including several within genes that had not previously been linked to dementia risk.

These included several points within the CELF1/MTCH2/SPI1 region on chromosome 11 that previously had been linked to the immune system.

Also Read: AI Technique to Improve Brain Scans To Predict Alzheimer’s Early

The researchers confirmed their findings in a large genetic study of healthy adults by showing that these same risk factors were more common in people with a family history of Alzheimer’s, even though they had not themselves developed dementia or other symptoms such as memory loss.

“These results imply that cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s pathology co-occur because they are linked genetically. That is, if you carry this handful of gene variants, you may be at risk not only for heart disease but also for Alzheimer’s,” Desikan said. (IANS)