By Carlos -

High Protein Diet Shrinks Brain- My first primary co-authored article!

So here is my first co authorship published scientific paper!

It came out inpress on the same day I was presenting it with the other co author at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago.

Titled: Dietary composition modulates brain mass and solubilizable A Beta levels in a mouse model of aggressive Alzheimer’s amyloid pathology and published in the open access journal Molecular Neurodegneration , our novel finding is that mice( engineered to develop aggressive Alzheimer’s pathology) fed a diet balanced for high protein content for 12 weeks wound up having brains that were 5% lower mass than other groups of mice fed diets calibrated for higher ratios of carbohydrates and fat. We were mindful to keep cholesterol content the same, because the role of cholesterol on Alzheimer’s disease pathology is already widely known and discussed in the literature. This way we could isolate the effect of caloric source on the disease pathology, namely the appearance of amyloid plaques.  In addition to examining the brain weight and finding the statistically significant reduction of brain mass in the mice on the high protein diet, we also looked for differences within regions of the brain- hoping to draw an association of high plaque density or neuronal loss ( typical in advanced cases of the human disease) with the cognitive decline that’s also exhibited in Alzheimer’s disease. We found no significant differences in the amount of plaques between the diet cohorts, surprisingly. However, we did find an associated loss of neuronal volume and cell counts of one particular region of the hippocampus – CA3. The hippocampus is a structure which is known to be critical in the formation of long term memories. CA3 has a critical role in the structure, and is oft called the pacemaker region. This region, when lesioned, or malfunctioning, results in a deficit in spatial navigation and awareness. The same type of memory that is first lost in Alzheimers disease sufferers. I think that this region needs serious special attention , and hopefully more research opportunities and discoveries will open up- elucidating its role in memory formation, and in the case of Alzheimer’s, why this region may be particularly susceptible.

As a putative hypothesis, we propose that amyloidosis may sensitize the brain, or regions therein, to excitotoxicity. In the article, I cited recently published research where the researchers also used a diet paradigm in rodents to investigate the effect -or susceptibility of different regions of the brain ( hypothalamus, and hippocampus) to glutamate excitotoxicity.

Their findings were that in older animals on a High Protein- Low Carb diet, the hippocampus became significantly susceptible to glutamate excitotoxicity, while the animals on a High Carb – Low Protein diet of the same age were not as affected. Conversely, in younger animals, it was the High Carb- Low Protein diet which was the more excitotoxic to the hippocampus. The Upshot is , old animals do poorly on a high protein-low carb diet, young animals do poorly on a high carb-low protein diet , as far as their hippocampus tell us.

The legitimacy of such mouse models to represent the disease etiology is still polemical, however if there is any truthful abstraction, it’s worth noting the influence of diet on the health of our brains.

In 2009 the paper was in the top 10 of most highly accessed papers for the entire year, and published just at the tail end of the year, in October! That’s pretty exciting for a first paper eh? I’m looking forward to it being cited, we’ll seeeee!!!

This article summarizes our findings pretty nicely.

Alzheimer’s Researchers Find High Protein Diet Shrinks Brain.

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