Alzheimer's researchers find high protein diet shrinks brain

Oct 20, 2009

One of the many reasons to pick a low-calorie, low-fat diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fish is that a host of epidemiological studies have suggested that such a diet may delay the onset or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Now a study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Molecular Neurodegeneration tests the effects of several diets, head-to-head, for their effects on AD pathology in a mouse model of the disease. Although the researchers were focused on triggers for brain plaque formation, they also found that, unexpectedly, a high protein diet apparently led to a smaller brain.

A research team from the US, Canada, and the UK tested four differing menus on transgenic mouse model of AD, which express a mutant form of the human (APP). APP's role in the is not fully understood; however it is of great interest to AD researchers because the body uses it to generate the amyloid plaques typical of Alzheimer's.

These mice were fed either (1) a regular , (2) a high fat/low carbohydrate custom diet, (3) a high protein/low carb version or (4) a high carbohydrate/low fat option. The researchers then looked at the brain and body weight of the mice, as well as plaque build up and differences in the structure of several brain regions that are involved in the memory defect underlying AD.

Unexpectedly, mice fed a high protein/ had brains five percent lighter that all the others, and regions of their were less developed. This result was a surprise, and, until researchers test this effect on non-transgenic mice, it is unclear whether the loss of brain mass is associated with AD-type plaque. But some studies in the published literature led the authors to put forward a tentative theory that a high protein diet may leave neurones more vulnerable to AD plaque. Mice on a high fat diet had raised levels of plaque proteins, but this had no effect on plaque burden.

Aside from transgenic mice, the pressing question is whether these data have implications for the human brain. "Given the previously reported association of high protein diet with aging-related neurotoxicity, one wonders whether particular diets, if ingested at particular ages, might increase susceptibility to incidence or progression of AD," says lead author, Sam Gandy, a professor at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and a neurologist at the James J Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx NY. The only way to know for sure would require prospective randomised double blind clinical diet trials. According to Gandy, "This would be a challenging undertaking but potentially worthwhile. If there is a real chance that the ravages of AD might be slowed or avoided through healthy eating. Such trials will be required if scientists are ever to make specific recommendations about dietary risks for AD."

More information: Dietary composition modulates brain mass and amyloid beta levels in a of aggressive Alzheimer's amyloid pathology, Steve Pedrini, Carlos Thomas, Hannah Brautigam, James Schmeidler, Lap Ho, Paul Fraser, David Westaway, Peter Hyslop, Ralph Martins, Joseph Buxbaum, Giulio Pasinetti, Dara Dickstein, Patrick Hof, Michelle Ehrlich and Sam Gandy, Molecular Neurodegeneration (in press), http://www.molecularneurodegeneration.com/

Source: BioMed Central (news : web)

Explore further: 'Chatty' cells help build the brain

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A high-fat diet could promote the development of Alzheimer's

Oct 28, 2008

A team of Université Laval researchers has shown that the main neurological markers for Alzheimer's disease are exacerbated in the brains of mice fed a diet rich in animal fat and poor in omega-3s. Details of the study—which ...

Enzyme shreds Alzheimer's protein

Sep 20, 2006

An enzyme found naturally in the brain snips apart the protein that forms the sludge called amyloid plaque that is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD), researchers have found. They said their findings in mice ...

Engineered mice provide insight into Alzheimer's disease

Jan 17, 2008

One factor that determines how at risk an individual is of developing late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD) is the version of the APOE gene that they carry — those carrying the gene that enables them to make the apoE4 form ...

New target for Alzheimer's disease identified

May 07, 2008

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an incurable disease that is increasing in prevalence and will increase even more rapidly as the Baby Boom generation enters the age of highest risk. The available AD drugs are only partially ...

Recommended for you

'Chatty' cells help build the brain

11 hours ago

The cerebral cortex, which controls higher processes such as perception, thought and cognition, is the most complex structure in the mammalian central nervous system. Although much is known about the intricate ...

'Trigger' for stress processes discovered in the brain

Nov 27, 2014

At the Center for Brain Research at the MedUni Vienna an important factor for stress has been identified in collaboration with the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm (Sweden). This is the protein secretagogin ...

New research supporting stroke rehabilitation

Nov 26, 2014

Using world-leading research methods, the team of Dr David Wright and Prof Paul Holmes, working with Dr Jacqueline Williams from the Victoria University in Melbourne, studied activity in an area of the brain ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

plasticpower
5 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2009
What do they mean by high protein diet? Because if you are working out, it's hard to hit the daily protein intake goal to support building muscle. Are they talking about just tons of protein here? Do you have to be a total "meathead" to have a smaller brain?
poi
not rated yet Oct 20, 2009
stereotypes have basis afterall.

and this study just slaps that stereotype on your face as having more tendency to be well grounded fact.

Aside from transgenic mice, the pressing question is whether these data have implications for the human brain.


does this statement seek to provide a leeway for some sort of escape, like "oh, we didn't mean to imply that this applies to humans. just tinkering with our pets."

vivisection is just that. test to animals for humans. one article here even said that they choose mice because their constitution closely resembles that of humans.

seems a little late to make that statement.
ArtflDgr
5 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2009
humans are omnivores mice are what?
while it would be wonderful if animal models actually where less complicated in how conclusions can be suggested, thats just not how it is.
marjon
not rated yet Oct 21, 2009
Mice are rodents.
I recall homo-xxx brains didn't start developing until they started eating meat, which is all protein.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.