Life Extension Update
|February 17, 2004|
|Life Extension Weekly Update Exclusive |
More on Alzheimer’s
In a presentation to the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Seattle, Dr Mattson explained that oxidative stress generated by the presence of amyloid-beta in the brain appears to stimulate the accumulation of cholesterol and ceramide, which leads to neuron death. This explains the antioxidant vitamin E’s apparent protective effect against Alzheimer's disease. When the researchers found that amyloid-beta increased ceramide and cholesterol in cultured rat neurons, treating the cells with vitamin E reduced the levels of both lipids and decreased nerve cell death.
Dr Mattson stated, "We had suspected that changes in fat metabolism in the membranes of nerve cells played a role in Alzheimer's but we had not been able to establish a direct link. With this study, we have been able to illustrate how alterations in membrane lipids can lead to neuronal dysfunction and death. The involvement of cholesterol and ceramide in the neurotoxic actions of beta amyloid, and their strong associations with the way the Alzheimer's progresses, suggests a novel approach for therapeutic interventions. Our work suggests that dietary modifications and drugs that inhibit the accumulation of ceramide and cholesterol may prove effective in suppressing the processes that lead to the disease."
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