A new study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell suggests that an abnormal buildup of fat droplets in the brain may be the cause of Alzheimerâs disease or could speed up its development.
The researchers first noticed the fat droplets near stem cells in the brains of rats bred to develop Alzheimerâs disease. After this finding, researchers went on to compare the brains of nine Alzheimerâs patients who died from the disease to the brains of five people who did not. Results showed a significant increase in fat droplets in the brains of the patients who had Alzheimerâs disease.
To further investigate their theory, researchers used advanced mass spectrometry (a technique used to determine the type and amount of chemicals in a sample) and found that the fat deposits were triglycerides enriched with specific fatty acids found in animal fats and vegetable oils.
Senior study author Karl Fernandes explains, âWe discovered that these fatty acids are produced by the brain, that they build up slowly with normal aging, but the process is accelerated significantly in the presence of genes that predispose to Alzheimerâs disease.â He further notes that the researchers believe âthe build-up of fatty acids is not a consequence but rather a cause or accelerator of the disease.â
Researchers conclude by noting that inhibitor drugs currently being tested for metabolic diseases have the ability to block the enzyme that produces these fatty acids and prevent them from building up in mice.
The World Health Organization estimates a total of 48 million people live with dementia worldwide; Alzheimerâs accounts for approximately 66% of these cases.
Sources for Todayâs Article:
Hamilton, L., et al., âAberrant lipid metabolism in the forebrain niche suppresses adult neural stem cell proliferation in an animal model of Alzheimerâs Disease,âCell Stem Cell August 27, 2015, doi:10.1016/j.stem.2015.08.001.
Paddock, C. âFat deposits in brain may hasten Alzheimerâs disease,â Medical News Today web site, August 28, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/298729.php.