Nav: Home

Alzheimer's disease linked to the metabolism of unsaturated fats, new research finds

March 22, 2017

A new study published in PLOS Medicine's Special Issue on Dementia has found that the metabolism of omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids in the brain are 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% 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. These proteins have been extensively studied and have been shown to start accumulating in the brain up to 20 years prior to the onset of the disease. However, there is limited information on how small molecule metabolism in the brain is associated with the development and progression of Alzheimer's disease.

In this study, researchers from King's College London and the National Institute on Aging in the United States looked at brain tissue samples from 43 people ranging in age from 57 to 95 years old. They compared the differences in hundreds of small molecules in three groups: 14 people with healthy brains, 15 that had high levels of tau and amyloid but didn't show memory problems and 14 clinically diagnosed Alzheimer's patients.

They also looked at three different areas in the brain, one that usually shows little tau and amyloid, one that shows more tau and another that shows more amyloid. The main molecules that were different were six small fats, including omegas, which changed in abundance in different regions of the brain.

They found that unsaturated fatty acids were significantly decreased in Alzheimer's brains when compared to brains from healthy patients.

Co-lead author of the study, Dr Cristina Legido Quigley from King's College London said: "While this was a small study, our results show a potentially crucial and unexpected role for fats in the onset of dementia. Most surprisingly we found that a supposedly beneficial omega3, DHA, actually increased with the progression of the disease.

"It is now important for us to build on and replicate these findings in a larger study and see whether it corroborates our initial findings."
-end-
This study was made possible thanks to the generous donation of volunteers from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging.

For further information please contact the Public Relations Department at King's College London on 0207 848 3202 or pr@kcl.ac.uk

'Unsaturated fatty acid metabolism in Alzheimer's disease' by Snowden et al is published online in PLOS Medicine on Tuesday 21 March 2017.

About King's College London

King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2016/17 QS World University Rankings) and among the oldest in England. King's has more than 27,600 students (of whom nearly 10,500 are graduate students) from some 150 countries worldwide, and some 6,800 staff.

King's has an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) King's was ranked 6th nationally in the 'power' ranking, which takes into account both the quality and quantity of research activity, and 7th for quality according to Times Higher Education rankings. Eighty-four per cent of research at King's was deemed 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent' (3* and 4*). The university is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of more than £684 million.

For further information, please visit the website: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/newsevents/About-Kings.aspx

King's College London

Related Dementia Articles:

Flies the key to studying the causes of dementia
A research team from the University of Plymouth, University of Southampton and the Alexander Fleming Biomedical Sciences Research Center, Vari, Greece, have studied two structurally-similar proteins in the adult brain and have found that they play distinct roles in the development of dementia.
Stroke prevention may also reduce dementia
Ontario's stroke prevention strategy appears to have had an unexpected, beneficial side effect: a reduction also in the incidence of dementia among older seniors.
Dementia: The right to rehabilitation
Rehabilitation is important for people with dementia as it is for people with physical disabilities, according to a leading dementia expert.
One in 4 elderly Australian women have dementia
At least a quarter of Australian women over 70 will develop dementia according to University of Queensland researchers.
Rural dementia -- we need to talk
Research carried out by Plymouth University into the experience of dementia in farming and farming families, and its impact on their businesses and home lives, has identified four areas of concern which need to be addressed if dementia in the countryside is to be managed.
Women with dementia receive less medical attention
Women with dementia have fewer visits to the GP, receive less health monitoring and take more potentially harmful medication than men with dementia, new UCL research reveals.
Dementia on the downslide, especially among people with more education
In a hopeful sign for the health of the nation's brains, the percentage of American seniors with dementia is dropping, a new study finds.
New study suggests rethink of dementia causes
University of Adelaide researchers have developed a new theory for the causes of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, involving an out-of-control immune system.
Bleeding stroke associated with onset of dementia
Bleeding within the brain, or intracerebral hemorrhage, was associated with a high risk of developing dementia post stroke, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2016.
Dementia: New insights into causes of loss of orientation
The University of Exeter Medical School led two studies, each of which moves us a step closer to understanding the onset of dementia, and potentially to paving the way for future therapies.

Related Dementia Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...