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Good diets fight bad Alzheimer's genes
Date:2/15/2011

Scientists today agree that there are five molecules that are known to affect or cause Alzheimer's disease, which plagues an estimated five million Americans. The potency of these molecules is linked to environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle.

Prof. Daniel Michaelson of Tel Aviv University's Department of Neurobiology at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences has illuminating news about one of these five molecules APOE, created by the apolipoprotein E. gene found in all of our bodies.

Prof. Michaelson says APOE comes in two forms, a "good" APOE gene and a "bad" APOE gene, called APOE4. He has developed animal models to investigate the effects of diet and environment on carriers of APOE4, the presence of which is a known risk factor for Alzheimer's. It appears in 50% of all Alzheimer's patients, and in 15% of the general population which due to APOE4 is the population which is at risk of getting the disease.

The good news? In preliminary results, the researchers are exhilarated to find that a diet high in Omega 3 oils and low in cholesterol appears to significantly reduce the negative effects of the APOE4 gene in mouse models.

Exercise is not enough and may be worse

In differentiating between the good and bad variants of the APOE gene, Prof. Michaelson and his team studied many variables. They determined that while a rich and stimulating environment is good for carriers of "good" APOE, the same environment has a negative effect on those at risk for Alzheimer's because they carry the APOE4 gene. While this environment stimulated the formation of new neuronal connections in the "good APOE" mice, it caused the death of brain neurons in the "bad APOE" mice. The stimulating environment included running wheels and tubes for hiding and sliding, as well as ropes and other toys for the mice to play on, replaced and updated with new toys weekly. Those in a non-stimulating environment had access to
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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