Eating less cuts Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice

Eating less cuts Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice

Eating fewer calories may help prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers reported on Friday.

By Amanda BeckFri Jun 16, 9:44 AM ET


A split-view image showing undated PET scans of a normal brain (L) and a brain with Alzheimer’s disease. Mental stimulation and drug treatment may help people with brain ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease regain seemingly lost memories, according to research published on Sunday. REUTERS/National Institute on Aging/Handout 

Eating fewer calories may help prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers reported on Friday.

A study in mice suggests a lower-calorie diet can help trigger the production of a protein that protects the brain from the disease, said researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

In the study, the mice in one group were permitted to eat as they wished, while the other group of mice was fed only 70 percent of that amount.

When the animals were killed six months later, researchers discovered the brains of the calorie-restricted mice held significantly higher levels of an anti-aging protein, SIRT1, the researchers reported in the July issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

That protein has been shown to curtail and reverse the production of plaque in the brain, a typical symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found the protein can also enhance the function of a patient’s metabolism, kidneys and liver.

"The real message is that, in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, caloric restriction led to the elevation of molecules that are associated with longevity and good health," said Dr. Giulio Pasinetti, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience who led the study.

"This may be the reason why caloric restriction may work to prevent Alzheimer’s disease."

According to the National Institute of Aging, about 4.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of elderly dementia.

Its first symptom is often a mild forgetfulness that escalates into an inability to care for oneself and, eventually, death. There is no cure, and treatments merely delay the progression of the disease for a short time.

The Mount Sinai study bolsters other research that has found a relationship between what and how much people eat and risk for the disease in general.

"The same things that we know are good for your body — particularly your vascular system — are all part of maintaining healthy brain function," said Dr. Bill Thies, a staff pharmacologist at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Pasinetti said his team had already replicated their experiment in monkeys and recorded similar results. They hope to begin a human version of the study by the end of the year.

Subjects would likely be near 70 years of age and submit to a more modest calorie reduction of perhaps 10 or 15 percent.



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