Posted on Dec 10, 2010, 6 a.m.
A diet chronically high in cholesterol produces symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, in a laboratory animal model.
The causes for Alzheimer's Disease are not known, but some experts speculate that chronic long-lasting mild cerebrovascular damage, including inflammatory processes and oxidative stress, may cause disease onset. As such, high cholesterol levels may be linked to the pathology of Alzheimer's Disease. Christian Humpel, from the Medical University Innsbruck (Austria), and colleagues studied the effects of a chronic high-cholesterol diet in adult rats. Male 6 months old Sprague Dawley rats were fed with normal food (controls) or with a special 5% cholesterol-enriched diet (hypercholesterolemia). After 5 months, the animals were tested for behavioral impairments and pathological markers similar to those found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. The results showed that chronic hypercholesterolemia caused memory impairment, cholinergic dysfunction, inflammation, enhanced cortical beta-amyloid and tau and induced microbleedings, which the researchers submit are: “all indications, which resemble an Alzheimer's disease-like pathology.”
Celine Ullrich, Michael Pirchl, Christian Humpel. “Hypercholesterolemia in rats impairs the cholinergic system and leads to memory deficits.” Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Volume 45, Issue 4, December 2010, Pages 408-417.