Posted on Jan 27, 2019, 7 p.m.
A recent study has revealed energy production within the brain may play a role in development of late onset AD. Disrupted energy production would present severe problems as the brain is the most energy hungry organ demanding as much as 20 time the energy of other tissues; malfunction could kill nerve cells and may help to explain cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease, as published in the journal Scientific Reports.
McLean Hospital scientists collected fibroblasts from patients with late onset AD and compared energy production with healthy matched controls. Energy metabolism is largely genetically determined; fibroblasts generate around 88% of their energy from mitochondrial respiration, and 12% is produced from glycolysis.
Fibroblast samples taken from late onset Alzheimer’s disease patients were observed to have had impaired mitochondrial metabolic potential; and these samples focused their energy production toward glycolysis to compensate for the impairments, according to the researchers.
Kai Sonntag explains brain cells are not capable of performing glycolysis unlike fibroblasts; meaning impairments in mitochondrial respiration may lead to the death of brain neurons, that may in turn explain the onset of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Bruce Cohen cautions that dysfunctions in energy production may only be one of the factors that results in the onset of AD.
There is not an easy answer to finding solutions to the maze of Alzheimer’s disease, all kinds of factors contribute to interactions that determine whether a person gets sick or not. Maybe we don’t have to fix everything to keep sickness away, maybe the reason for sickness is a person being unlucky in 5 different ways that combine and tip over the edge; perhaps fixing just one of the factors may be enough to keep a person from going over the edge into sickness, suggests Cohen.
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