Story ideas from the Journal of Biological Chemistry

December 07, 2007

Excess drinking of sugary beverages like soda may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, suggests new research in mice. Although the exact mechanisms aren't known, obesity and diabetes are both associated with higher incidences of Alzheimer's. Ling Li and her colleagues tested whether high sugar consumption in an otherwise normal diet would affect Alzheimer's progression.

They used a genetic mouse model that develops Alzheimer's-like symptoms in adulthood, and over a 25 week period supplemented the regular, balanced diet of half the animals with 10% sugar water. Afterwards, they compared the metabolism, memory skills (by means of various mazes) and brain composition of the regular and sugar-fed mice.

The sugar-fed mice gained about 17% more weight than controls, had higher cholesterol levels, and developed insulin resistance. These mice also had worse learning and memory retention and their brains contained over twice as many amyloid plaque deposits, an anatomical hallmark of Alzheimer's.

Although the researchers cannot be certain if the increased mental impairment resulted specifically from higher sugar intake or higher calories in general, these findings highlight the potential risk of sugary beverages. They note that the human equivalent of the mouse diet would be roughly 5 cans of soda per day, although since mice have a higher metabolism, it may actually take less sugar intake in humans.
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CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Ling Li, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Phone: 205-934-1889, email: lili@uab.edu

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with over 11,900 members in the United States and internationally. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, nonprofit research institutions and industry. The Society's student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions.

Founded in 1906, the Society is based in Bethesda, Maryland, on the campus of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The Society's purpose is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through publication of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the Journal of Lipid Research, and Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific work force.

For more information about ASBMB, see the Society's Web site at www.asbmb.org.

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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