Fish Oil Prevents Alzheimer's Plaques
Dec. 26, 2007 -- Why does fish oil help prevent Alzheimer's disease? Your brain needs a fish oil fatty acid to make a plaque-fighting protein, UCLA researchers find.
It's known that people who get plenty of DHA, a fish oil fatty acid, have a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, note Greg M. Cole, PhD, associate director of the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, and colleagues.
Why? Cole's team had a clue. People with Alzheimer's disease tend to have low levels of a brain protein called LR11 (also known as SorLA). And about 15% of people with Alzheimer's disease carry a genetic mutation that reduces LR11.
LR11 helps clear the brain of amyloid precursor protein, essential for production of the brain-gumming beta-amyloid plaque that clogs the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
Sure enough, in live rodents and in cultures of human brain cells, the researchers found that the fish-oil compound DHA causes brain cells to make lots more LR11.
"Because reduced LR11 is known to increase beta amyloid production and may be a significant genetic cause of late-onset Alzheimer's disease, our results indicate that DHA increases in LR11 levels may play an important role in preventing late-onset Alzheimer's disease," Cole and colleagues conclude.
It may be too late for people with late-stage Alzheimer's disease to get much benefit from fish oil. But Cole suggests that it may be a great help if taken at the first signs of Alzheimer's.
Cole and colleagues report their findings in the Dec. 26 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.
SOURCES: Ma, Q.-L. The Journal of Neuroscience, Dec. 26, 2007; vol 27: pp 14299-14307. News release, University of California, Los Angeles.