|Life Extension Update Exclusive |
More on DHA and Alzheimer’s disease
Readers of Life Extension Update may recall the September 4 2004 issue which reported the findings of Greg Cole and colleagues at UCLA on the protective benefit of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) against Alzheimer’s disease, published in the journal Neuron. Now, the March 23 2005 online edition of the Journal of Neuroscience reports further research of Dr Cole which confirms the findings of the previous experiments.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil and algae whose consumption has been associated with a reduction in inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as other conditions.
Using older mice bred to develop the beta-amyloid plaques that are characteristic of the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients, the team provided them with diets that consisted of no DHA, a “normal” (control) level of the fatty acid, or a high amount. The mice, who were 17 to 19 months old at the beginning of the study, consumed the diets until the age of 22 and one half, after which their brains were examined for beta-amyloid and plaque formation.
Dr Cole and colleagues discovered that the mice who received the high DHA diet had 70 percent less beta-amyloid in their brains than the mice who received no DHA or the control diet. Overall plaque burden was 40 percent less in the mice receiving the DHA enriched diet, with the largest reductions observed in the parietal cortex and hippocampus.
Dr Cole, who is the associate director for research at the Los Angeles Veteran Administration's Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, and a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, stated, "The good news from this study is that we can buy the therapy at a supermarket or drug store. DHA has a tremendous safety profile--essentially no side effects--and clinical trial evidence supports giving DHA supplements to people at risk for cardiovascular disease."