Researchers are studying the role of the Western diet in cognitive decline and neurodegenerative problems in mice. Previous research has already shown a link between poor nutrition, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. New research in rodents may reveal a mechanism behind this phenomenon, which scientists can 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 treatments for neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was published in the journal iScience
Neurodegenerative disorders and the Western diet
Neurodegenerative disorders include a variety of conditions resulting from loss of structure and function of the central or peripheral nervous system. The two most common neurological 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 neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Another study earlier this year showed that preventing obesity early in life through healthy eating can delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The typical Western diet, which health experts also refer to as the Standard Western Diet, typically includes large amounts of foods with higher calories and fat and lower nutritional value. In a previous study, researchers identified a peptide called NaKtide as a way to block signals from a 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 indicates that the Western diet causes cognitive decline and neurodegeneration by increasing Na and K-ATPase signaling in fat cells or fat cells. When the researchers interfered with Na and K-ATPase signaling 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 an essential role in learning and long-term memory.
In the study, the researchers used a mouse model in which the gene had been 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 the fat cells. At the end of the study, the researchers noted that mice fed the Western diet significantly increased body weight compared to mice fed the normal diet. In addition, the first group of mice showed marked insulin resistance, low energy, and low oxygen levels.
The Western diet also increases the type of cytokine molecules that promote inflammation. The body needs anti-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines to regulate the response to each. Having too many inflammatory cytokines can lead to certain conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases. The study authors also found that mice fed the Western diet showed signs of behavioral changes, changes in gene expression, and signals consistent with those typical of people with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.
For the study’s authors, the next step is further research to try to replicate the current findings in humans. The research also shows the potential for therapy aimed at deactivating Na and K-ATPase signaling in fat cells.
Although it is premature to talk about new drugs that can target the redox state of adipocytes, modifying the diet to avoid exacerbation of oxidative stress in adipocytes may be something worth considering in the context of clinical neurodegeneration.
Additionally, this research could have important implications for proposed dietary changes for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or with increased risk factors. In fact, 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 explored the effect of a high-fat diet on encephalitis and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. On the other hand, several studies show that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats, such as the Mediterranean diet, can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
The role of fat cells Na, a K-ATPase redox amplification loop in cognitive decline and neurodegeneration
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