The researchers are examining the role of the Western diet in cognitive decline and neurodegenerative problems in mice. Previous research has already shown a link between poor diet, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. New research in rodents may uncover a mechanism behind this phenomenon, which scientists could use to develop potential therapies to treat neurodegenerative disorders.
In recent years, studies of the typical Western diet have linked it to adverse reactions in the body, such as prostate cancer, sepsis, and chronic intestinal infections. A new study suggests that the Western diet may hurt the brain, leading to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative problems. The researchers believe that their findings could offer potential therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The study is published in the journal iScience.
Neurodegenerative disorders and the western diet
Neurodegenerative disorders include a variety of conditions that result from loss of structure and function of the central or peripheral nervous system. The two most common neurodegenerative disorders are Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Previous research shows that the impact of obesity and poor diet can increase the risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Another study from earlier this year showed that preventing obesity at an early age through healthier eating can delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
A typical Western diet, which health experts also call the standard Western diet, typically includes large amounts of foods with higher percentages of calories and fat and lower nutritional value. In an earlier study, researchers identified a peptide called NaKtide as a way to block signals from the cellular sodium and potassium pump called Na, K-ATPase. By blocking this signal, the study authors reduced the growth of obesity in mice fed a high-fat diet.
Current research suggests that the Western diet causes cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration through increased Na, K-ATPase signaling in adipocytes, or fat cells. When the researchers interfered with Na, K-ATPase signaling using NaKtide in these fat cells, they found that it stopped the negative effects of the Western diet on the brain, particularly the hippocampus, which plays an essential role in learning and long-term memory.
In the study, the researchers used a mouse model that had the altered gene. They fed the mice either a normal diet or a Western-style diet for 12 weeks. They were also given the antibiotic doxycycline to activate NaKtide in fat cells. At the end of the study, the researchers observed that mice fed the Western diet significantly increased their body weight compared to mice fed the normal diet. Furthermore, the first group of mice showed remarkable insulin resistance, low energy, and reduced oxygen levels.
Additionally, the Western diet increases the type of cytokine molecules that promote inflammation. The body needs anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines to regulate each other’s responses. Having too many inflammatory cytokines can cause certain conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases. The study authors also found that mice given the Western diet showed signs of behavioral changes and changes in gene expression and signaling consistent with those types of people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
The following steps
For the study authors, the next step is to conduct more research to try to replicate the current findings in humans. The research also shows the possibility of targeted therapy to deactivate Naand, K-ATPase signaling in fat cells.
Although it is too early to talk about new drugs that can attack the redox state of adipocytes, it might be worth considering dietary modulation to avoid exacerbation of oxidative stress in adipocytes in the context of clinical neurodegeneration.
Additionally, this research could have important implications for suggested dietary changes for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or with elevated risk factors. This research offers a new way to mitigate the effects of the Western diet by blocking Na, and K-ATPase signaling in fat cells. Previous work has explored the effect of a high-fat diet on inflammation in the brain and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. On the other hand, numerous studies show that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats, that is, the Mediterranean diet, can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Role of the amplification loop of the oxidant Na, K-ATPase of adipocytes in cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration
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