Fish Oil Prevents Alzheimer's Plaques

Brain Needs Fish Oil Fatty Acid to Make Plaque-Fighting Protein

From the WebMD Archives

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.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on December 26, 2007

Sources

SOURCES: Ma, Q.-L. The Journal of Neuroscience, Dec. 26, 2007; vol 27: pp 14299-14307. News release, University of California, Los Angeles.

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