Findings of a latest study suggest that excess iron in the brain may trigger the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Increase of iron in the brain can lead to oxidant damage and can cause adverse consequences on the brain, claims the study.
A logical corollary of the study is that one should refrain from eating excessive read meat as it is a rich source of iron.
Previous studies have suggested that one of two proteins; tau and beta-amyloid are responsible for causing Alzheimer’s. The medical condition is age-related. The proteins in question either interrupt the signals between neurons or may even stop them totally.
For the purpose of the study, researchers used brain-imaging techniques on 99 patients. 31 of the study participants were suffering from Alzheimer’s while 68 of them were healthy.
The researchers found that increase in iron deposits the hippocampus region of the brain leads to tissue damage and growth of defective tau or beta-amyloid proteins. The hippocampus region is the reservoir of human memories.
At the same time the scans revealed that there was no accumulation of iron in the thalamus region of the brain.
“Excess iron is the flame”
Dr. George Bartzokis, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, and senior author of the study said, “The accumulation of amyloid is like gasoline, while excess iron is the flame. An excess of iron is destructive because it is a pro-oxidant metal, meaning it converts free radicals into highly reactive ones.”
The findings of the study bring the medical fraternity a shade closer to understanding the debilitating disease, which is the sixth leading cause of deaths in the United States.
The findings of the study have been published in the August issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease