Monday, December 06, 2010

Mitochondria and Alzheimer's connection

What are the earliest brain changes associated with the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease? A scientific report published in the October Journal of Alzheimer's Disease finds reduced activity of mitochondria in deceased young adult brain donors who carry a common genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease -- before the protein changes or microscopic abnormalities commonly associated with the disease and almost five decades before the age at which they might have developed memory and thinking problems.

Arizona researchers studied tissue from a vulnerable part of the brain in 40 young adults who had died and donated their brains for research. 15 of the brain donors carried a common genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, and 25 of the brain donors did not. With the exception of a person with two copies of the APOE4 gene, none of the deceased young adults had the microscopic abnormalities or elevated amyloid protein levels long associated with Alzheimer's disease. However, the activity of an enzyme known as cytochrome oxidase, an energy-making enzyme found in the mitochondria of brain cells, was slightly reduced in the group at increased genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease. "Our findings suggest that mitochondrial brain changes contribute to the risk of Alzheimer's disease," said the study's lead author.

Steve - as we reported earlier regarding the connection between autism and mitochondrial dysfunction, we see a pattern forming around the importance of optimal functioning mitochondria, or what we like to call the powerhouse of the cell. One nutrient we have know for a long time to be beneficial for mitochondria is Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

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