Lead can be cause of Alzheimer’s disease: NIN study


Green tea, guava leaves, apples, cherries, black berries possessing antioxidants have preventive potential

Lead is a common pollutant that can get into the environment from a number of commonly used materials like paints, cosmetics, batteries, glass and low-grade toys. Its role as a risk factor in development of neuro-degenerative diseases is established globally.

Recent studies conducted at ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) have now established the possible link between lead exposure and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) where brain cells processing, storing and helping recollect information degenerate and slowly die. Although the underlying cause of this destruction is not completely known, a prime suspect is a microscopic brain protein fragment called ‘beta-amyloid’ which disrupts communication between cells and leads to their death.

Research showed that the central nervous system is the most vulnerable to minute levels of lead-induced toxicity and it has been linked to AD as a probable risk factor though its specific role is still not clear. A team led by ICMR-NIN’s senior scientist Dr. Suresh Challa is unravelling the molecular mechanism behind both lead and beta amyloid peptide induced toxicity in AD through in vitro studies.

“Alzheimer’s has a complex patho-physiology involving formation of beta amyloid plaques, tangles in brain, oxidative stress and inflammation leading to loss of memory and neuronal cell death. Our study investigated the basic mechanism behind the involvement of Lead in AD,” said Dr. Suresh Challa.

The scientists simulated brain cells in vitro with beta amyloid peptides like in AD and the effect of lead exposure was then studied. It showed increased cell death and that proteins involved in neuro-development and regeneration were depleted, leading to loss of memory as in AD.

“Maternal exposure to lead during pregnancy could cause higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease in later life of the child. The current findings could be another piece in solving the puzzle towards understanding the AD to develop preventive and management strategies for elderly,” said NIN director Dr. R Hemalatha.

Research also showed that the therapeutic potential of natural compounds like ‘Epigallocatechin Gallate’ (EGCG) present in green tea, guava leaves, apples, cherries, pears, black berries - possessing antioxidants, have shown to have preventive potential against lead toxicity. Further studies are on, a press release said.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 1:51:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/lead-can-be-cause-of-alzheimers-disease-nin-study/article30560849.ece

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