Research shows an important cause of Alzheimer’s disease

Credit: CDC

Alzheimer’s disease is a common condition that primarily affects older adults, leading to memory loss and cognitive decline known as dementia.

Despite more than two decades of research, scientists are still unraveling the mystery of what causes Alzheimer’s and how to cure it.

The journey towards understanding this disease involves exploring various theories and conducting innovative studies.

One leading theory about Alzheimer’s disease is the buildup of a protein called amyloid-beta in the brain, which is thought to contribute to the condition.

More recently, another theory has gained attention, focusing on the role of mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells, in the development of Alzheimer’s.

These mitochondria are crucial for producing energy in cells, and any disruption in their function could have significant implications for brain health.

In an exciting development, researchers from Yale-NUS College have found evidence that supports the mitochondria-related theory.

Their study revealed that problems with cell metabolism, which is the process cells use to generate energy, appear before there’s a noticeable increase in amyloid-beta protein in the brain. This discovery suggests that the root of Alzheimer’s might lie in these early metabolic disturbances.

To make this finding, the research team studied a small worm known as Caenorhabditis elegans, which shares many molecular similarities with humans. This model organism allowed them to observe changes at a cellular level that could be related to Alzheimer’s disease.

They discovered that treating these worms with Metformin, a common medication used for diabetes, could reverse the metabolic defects they observed and even improve the worms’ overall health and lifespan.

This study proposes a shift in how we approach Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of waiting for protein buildups to occur, it might be more effective to target and treat these metabolic issues early on.

This preventative strategy aligns with the broader understanding that problems with metabolism and mitochondria are central to aging and age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The researchers argue that by focusing on the aging process itself and the mechanisms behind it, we could potentially prevent or more effectively treat diseases that occur with age, such as Alzheimer’s.

Although there’s no guaranteed way to prevent Alzheimer’s currently, adopting certain lifestyle habits can reduce the risk.

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, mental engagement, adequate sleep, stress management, social interaction, and head injury prevention are all strategies that can contribute to brain health and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.

The study led by Jan Gruber and published in the journal eLife, opens new avenues for understanding and potentially tackling Alzheimer’s disease.

By highlighting the importance of early metabolic disturbances, it offers hope for new therapeutic strategies that focus on the root causes of aging and related diseases.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, and higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and coconut oil could help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s.

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