April 20, 2009

Omega 3 may protect against Parkinson’s

Omega three fatty acids protect brain cells by preventing the misfolding of a protein from a gene mutation in Parkinson's disease, U.S. researchers said.

Dr. Nicolas Bazan of Louisiana State University and colleagues developed a cell model with a mutation of the Ataxin-1 gene.

The defective Ataxin-1 gene induced the misfolding of the protein produced by the gene. The misshapened proteins cannot be properly processed by the cell machinery, resulting in tangled clumps of toxic protein that eventually kill the cell.

Spinocerebellar Ataxia, a disabling disorder that affects speech, eye movement, and hand coordination at early ages of life, is one disorder resulting from the Ataxin-1 misfolding defect.

The researcher found that the omega three fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid, protects cells from this defect.

These experiments provide proof of principle that neuroprotectin D1 can be applied therapeutically to combat various neurodegenerative diseases, Bazan said in a statement.

Furthermore, this study provides the basis of new therapeutic approaches to manipulate retinal pigment epithelial cells to be used to treat patients with disorders characterized by this mutation like Parkinson's, Retinitis Pigmentosa and some forms of Alzheimer's Disease.

The findings were presented at the American Society for Nutrition, Experimental Biology 2009 annual meeting in New Orleans.