Sunday, January 06, 2008

Fish Oils May Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

A recent study from the University of California Los Angeles Departments of Medicine and Neurology concludes that fish oils may help prevent Alzheimer's disease. The researchers found that omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is found in fish oil, raises the production of LR11, a protein which destroys the plaques in the brain which have been associated with Alzheimer's disease.

These plaques which are toxic to the brain cells are deposits of a protein called beta-amyloid.
Patients with late-onset Alzheimer's disease tend to have a high number of these plaques and very low levels of LR11. Both genetic and environmental factors may contribute to this process.

The scientists administered the fatty acid by diet to mice and also directly to cultured human neuronal cells to evaluate its effects. They found that even low doses of DHA increased the level of LR11 in the brain cells. "Consequently, elevated levels of DHA, which in turn lead to an abundance of LR11 appear to protect against Alzheimer's disease, while low LR11 levels have the opposite effect as they allow the formation of the amyloid plaques."

DHA is considered an "essential" fatty acid because it can only be obtained through diet. Our bodies cannot produce it from any other source. It is also the most abundant essential fatty acid in the brain and has been known to be important for healthy brain development in the fetus.

Other benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, cardiovascular protection, and anti-inflammatory and anti-blood clotting actions. They have also been reported to help reduce the risks and symptoms for other disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and depression.

As a result of these findings, the National Institute of Health is currently carrying out a large-scale clinical trial with DHA in patients with established Alzheimer's disease. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings and to establish a dose that may be helpful in the prevention of the disease.

References: please see above links.
Photo: courtesy of Pharma Gazette.


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Noah said...

Thanks Doctor for very useful information.