October 30, 2008

High-Fat Diet Linked to Alzheimer’s

Neurological markers for Alzheimer's disease are exacerbated in brains of mice fed a diet rich in animal fat and poor in omega-3, Canadian researchers say.

A University of Laval research team led by Frederic Calon used a type of transgenic mice that produce two proteins found in the brains of Alzheimer patients -- tau proteins -- which prevent proper neuron functioning, and amyloid-beta, associated with the formation of senile plaques within the brains of afflicted patients.

The researchers fed transgenic and regular mice different diets for nine months, then compared the effects on the animals' brains.

The mice whose diet was poor in omega-3 and rich in fat -- 60 percent of consumed calories -- showed amyloid-beta and tau protein concentrations respectively 8.7 and 1.5 times higher than the control group mice, whose food contained seven times less fat. The high-fat diet also reduced drebrin protein levels in the brain, another characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.

"Metabolic changes induced by such a diet could affect the inflammatory response in the brain," study co-author Carl Julien said.

The findings are published in the latest online edition of Neurobiology of Aging.