Posted on Feb 25, 2013, 6 a.m.
Vitamin D3 and omega-3 fatty acids may enhance the immune system's ability to clear the brain of the amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer's brain tissue exhibits many fewer nerve cells and synapses than a healthy brain, due to the presence of plaques – abnormal clusters of protein fragments, build up between nerve cells; and tangles – twisted strands of proteins that comprise dead and dying nerve cells. In a small pilot study, Milan Fiala, from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA; California, USA), and colleagues drew blood samples from both Alzheimer's patients and healthy controls, then isolated macrophages – blood components that are responsible for disposing of amyloid-beta and other waste products in the brain and body. The team incubated the immune cells overnight with amyloid-beta. They added either an active form of vitamin D3 called 1alpha,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 or an active form of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA called resolvin D1 to some of the cells to gauge the effect they had on inflammation and amyloid-beta absorption. The researchers observed that both 1alpha, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 and resolvin D1 improved the ability of the Alzheimer's disease patients' macrophages to gobble-up amyloid-beta, and they inhibited the cell death that is induced by amyloid-beta. Researchers observed that each nutrition molecule utilized different receptors and common signaling pathways to do this. The lead researcher is hopeful that: "Our new study sheds further light on a possible role for nutritional substances such as vitamin D3 and omega-3 in boosting immunity to help fight Alzheimer's."
Mizwicki MT, Menegaz D, Zhang J, Barrientos-Durán A, Tse S, Cashman JR, Griffin PR, Fiala M. “Genomic and nongenomic signaling induced by 1α,25(OH)2-vitamin D3 promotes the recovery of amyloid-[beta] phagocytosis by Alzheimer's disease macrophages.” J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;29(1):51-62.