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, including prostate cancer, sepsis, and chronic intestinal infections. A new study suggests that the Western diet may have a negative effect on the brain, leading to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative problems. The researchers believe 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 resulting from the 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 in the year showed that preventing obesity early in life 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 calorie and fat percentages and lower nutritional value. In a previous study, researchers identified a peptide called NaKtide as a way to block signals from the cellular sodium-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 decline and neurodegeneration through increased Na,K-ATPase signaling in adipocytes, or fat cells. When the researchers interfered with the Na,K-ATPase signal through the use of NaKtide in these fat cells, they found that it halted the negative effects of the Western diet on the brain, particularly the hippocampus, which plays a essential role in learning and long-term memory.
In the study, the researchers used a mouse model that had the gene altered. They fed the mice either a normal diet or a Western-style diet for 12 weeks. They also gave them the antibiotic doxycycline to activate NaKtide in fat cells. At the end of the study, the researchers observed that the mice fed the Western diet increased their body weight significantly compared to the mice fed the normal diet. Additionally, the first group of mice showed noticeable insulin resistance, low energy, and reduced oxygen levels.
Also, 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 response. Having too many inflammatory cytokines can cause certain conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases. The study authors also found that the mice given the Western diet showed signs of behavioral changes and changes in gene expression and signaling consistent with those typical of people with Alzheimer’s disease. and Parkinson’s.
The next steps
For the study authors, the next step is to conduct further research to try to replicate the current findings in humans. The research also shows the possibility of a therapy aimed at deactivating Na,K-ATPase signaling in fat cells.
Although it is too early to talk about new drugs that might target the redox state of adipocytes, modulation of diet to avoid exacerbation of oxidative stress in adipocytes might be worth considering 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 increased risk factors. Indeed, this research offers a new way to mitigate the effects of the Western diet by blocking Na,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, ie the Mediterranean diet, can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Role of adipocyte Na,K-ATPase oxidant amplification loop in cognitive decline and neurodegeneration
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