Fish Oil Prevents Alzheimer's Plaques
Brain Needs Fish Oil Fatty Acid to Make Plaque-Fighting Protein
It's known that people who get plenty of DHA, one of the two main fish oil fatty
acids, have a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, notes Greg M. Cole, PhD,
associate director of the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. Dr. Cole
with other UCLA researchers has found that your brain needs DHA- the fish oil
fatty acid, to make a plaque-fighting protein. People with Alzheimer's disease
tend to have low levels of a brain protein called LR11 (also known as SorLA).
Additionally, about 15% of people with Alzheimer's disease carry a genetic mutation
that reduces production of LR11. LR11 helps clear the brain of the precursor
protein for amyloid, and amyloid is essential for production of the brain-destroying
A-Beta plaque (also known as beta-amyloid plaque) that clogs the brains of people
with Alzheimer's disease.
Sure enough, in live rodents and in cultures of human brain cells, the researchers
found that the fish-oil compound DHA causes brain cells to make lots more LR11.
"Because reduced LR11 is known to increase beta amyloid production and
may be a significant genetic cause of late-onset Alzheimer's disease, our results
indicate that DHA increases in LR11 levels may play an important role in preventing
late-onset Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Cole and his colleagues conclude.
It may be too late for people with late-stage Alzheimer's disease to get much
benefit from fish oil. But Dr. Cole suggests that it may be a great help if
taken at the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The UCLA scientists report
their findings in the Dec. 26, 2007 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.
More evidence that the omega-3 fatty acid DHA may help prevent and
fight Alzheimer's disease
In the brain of someone with Alzheimer's disease there are tangles of twisted
fibers and clumps of proteins along with massive levels of free radical production
and also signs of inflammation. These protein clumps based on beta-amyloid protein
are connected to brain nerve cell death, the hallmark of this disease. This
leads to personality changes, severe progressive memory loss and eventually
DHA is an omega-3 fat found in ocean going fish and seafood. Researchers at
Louisiana State University's Neuroscience center of Excellence found that DHA
helped brain cells in two ways:
1) Inhibiting the production of beta-amyloid proteins, the protein found in
Alzheimer's brain plaques
2) Boosting the production of a protein known as NPD1. This protein protects
brain cells and helps them stay alive.
The study is published in the September 8th, 2005 issue of The Journal of
Clinical Investigation. Note: for more information on DHA and Alzheimer's
disease see our radio studies for March 24th, 2005.