Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Alzheimer's Gene' Protects Children From Severe Diarrhea

Date:
November 13, 2006
Source:
University of Virginia Health System
Summary:
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and Federal University of Ceará in Brazil have joined forces to study if the gene believed to contribute to Alzheimer's protects children from the developmental stresses of early childhood diarrhea.

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and Federal University of Ceará in Brazil have joined forces to study if the gene believed to contribute to Alzheimer's protects children from the developmental stresses of early childhood diarrhea.

"In earlier studies, we found that shantytown children in Northeast Brazil who suffer from early childhood diarrhea and malnutrition suffered from lasting physical and cognitive consequences. However, some children who have the same diarrhea and malnutrition are protected from the developmental problems if they have the "Alzheimer's gene" (APOE4)," says Dr. Richard Guerrant, founder and director of the Center for Global Health at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. "Basically, we believe this gene protects the children early in life by helping them survive severe malnutrition, but the same gene potentially contributes to a multitude of problems later in life."

Guerrant and colleagues at Federal University of Ceará recently received a $1.3 million grant from the National Institute of Child and Human Development to study the striking link. Guerrant and Dr. Aldo A. M. Lima, professor and director of the Clinical Research Unit & Institute of Biomedicine at Federal University of Ceará have a 25-year collaboration addressing children's health and development issues. Dr. Lima and Dr. Reinaldo Oriá are working as the principal investigators in Brazil.

Severe diarrhea and its accompanying malnutrition kill more than 3 million people worldwide each year and developmentally impair many millions more children who survive repeated bouts of diarrhea, while Alzheimer's afflicts more than 20 million people worldwide each year.

"This might have important implications for Brazil and other developing countries, where diabetes and cardiovascular disease are also becoming critical issues in public health," says Oriá, an associate professor at Federal University of Ceará and a former research fellow at the University of Virginia. Oria says the primary goal of the study will be to develop interventional therapies based on critical nutrients which children need for their cognitive and physical development.

In studies in mice at UVa, these researchers have shown that those mice who do not have the APOE4 gene suffer far worse malnutrition when they are weaned early. Oria says they are looking to see if arginine, an amino acid, can help lessen the devastating consequences of severe diarrhea and malnutrition.

In addition, Guerrant says the research will also shed further light on situations where negative genetic traits are found to have beneficial effects that likely help to explain their presence in human evolution. An example of this phenomenon, called a balanced polymorphism, is sickle cell anemia, a genetic disease in which a double "dose" of the sickle cell gene causes red blood cells to form odd shapes and results in pain and anemia. A single "dose" of the same gene, however, makes a person resistant to malaria, a deadly tropical disease.

Oria adds that if the APOE4 gene indeed proves to be a balanced polymorphism, this could greatly help us understand and reduce the long-term impact of diarrhea and malnutrition. He says the genetic imprint early in life due to the "switch-on" of genes to sustain body mass, may have lasting consequences later in life. This genetic "switch" could elucidate ways to "turn-on" the protection when they are most vulnerable and then "turn-off" the genetic switch which helped them in their youth, but will cause them more problems as they age.

"We are very excited about this ongoing research with the promise of hope and better health it offers to millions of children silently suffering the devastating consequences of diarrhea and malnutrition worldwide," Guerrant says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Virginia Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Virginia Health System. "'Alzheimer's Gene' Protects Children From Severe Diarrhea." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061112094549.htm>.
University of Virginia Health System. (2006, November 13). 'Alzheimer's Gene' Protects Children From Severe Diarrhea. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061112094549.htm
University of Virginia Health System. "'Alzheimer's Gene' Protects Children From Severe Diarrhea." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061112094549.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) — Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) — New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) — Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins