Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cocktail Therapy For Alzheimer's Disease? Works for Gerbils

Date:
July 9, 2008
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
A dietary cocktail that includes a type of omega-3 fatty acid can improve memory and learning in gerbils, according to a new study that points to a possible beverage-based treatment for Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

A dietary cocktail that includes a type of omega-3 fatty acid can improve memory and learning in gerbils, according to the latest study from MIT researchers that points to a possible beverage-based treatment for Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

The combination of supplements, which contains three compounds normally found in the bloodstream, is now being tested in Alzheimer's patients. The cocktail has previously been shown to promote growth of new brain connections in rodents.

"It may be possible to use this treatment to partially restore brain function in people with diseases that decrease the number of brain neurons, including, for example, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, strokes and brain injuries. Of course, such speculations have to be tested in double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials," said Richard Wurtman, Cecil H. Green Distinguished Professor of Neuropharmacology and senior author of a paper on the new work.

Such trials are now underway in Europe. A paper describing preliminary results has been submitted to the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, to be held in Chicago July 26-31.

The new findings in gerbils appeared in the July 7 online edition of the Journal of FASEB (Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology).

The researchers found that normal gerbils treated with the mixture--a combination of DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), uridine and choline--performed significantly better on learning and memory tests than untreated gerbils.

Wurtman developed the treatment as a new approach to tackling Alzheimer's--restoring the synapses, or connections between brain cells, that leads to cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients.

Synapses, where information is passed between neurons, play a critical role in learning and memory. Wurtman's laboratory has previously shown that the cocktail treatment improves those functions in rats with cognitive impairments.

The three dietary supplements under investigation are precursors to the fatty molecules that make up cell membranes, including the membranes of brain cells, which form synapses.

In the FASEB study, Wurtman and his colleagues found that gerbils that received all three supplements had up to 70 percent more phosphatides (a type of molecule that forms cell membranes) than control mice, suggesting that new synapses are forming.

"The improvements in cognition observed in normal gerbils in this study and in rats with impaired cognition, in a previous study, correlate perfectly with the evidence of increased brain synapses, as shown biochemically and anatomically," said Wurtman. "This suggests that treating the animals with the experimental mixture affects behavior by increasing the number of synapses in important brain regions.

Some of the gerbils in the studies received all three compounds and some received only two. The improvements in apparent synapse growth and cognitive ability were greatest in the rats given all three.

Omega-3 fatty acids are not produced in the body but are found in a variety of sources, including fish, eggs, flaxseed and meat from grass-fed animals. Choline can be synthesized in the body and obtained through the diet; it is found in meats, nuts and eggs. Uridine cannot be obtained from food sources, but is a component of human breast milk and can be produced in the body.

Lead author of the FASEB paper is Sarah Holguin, a recent MIT PhD recipient. Other authors are MIT undergraduates Joseph Martinez and Camille Chow.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the CBSMCT.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Cocktail Therapy For Alzheimer's Disease? Works for Gerbils." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708155604.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2008, July 9). Cocktail Therapy For Alzheimer's Disease? Works for Gerbils. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708155604.htm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Cocktail Therapy For Alzheimer's Disease? Works for Gerbils." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708155604.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
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