Abnormal fat build-up in the brain accelerates Alzheimer’s disease

Karl Fernandes

Karl Fernandes

A new study by Karl Fernandes, a researcher at the CRCHUM and a professor at Université de Montréal linking abnormal fast deposits in the brain and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.   “We found fatty acid deposits in the brain of patients who died from the disease and in mice that were genetically modified to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Our experiments suggest that these abnormal fat deposits could be a trigger for the disease”, said Karl Fernandes.

By examining the brains of patients who died from Alzheimer’s disease or other causes, Dr. Fernandes’s team found a greater accumulation of fat in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.  “We discovered that these fatty acids are produced by the brain, that they build up slowly with normal aging, but that the process is accelerated significantly in the presence of genes that predispose to Alzheimer’s disease”, explained Karl Fernandes. In mice predisposed to the disease, we showed that these fatty acids accumulate very early on, at two months of age, which corresponds to the early twenties in humans. Therefore, we think that the build-up of fatty acids is not a consequence but rather a cause or accelerator of the disease.”

This discovery, published in Cell Stem Cell, could lead to the development of new drugs to cure or slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.  There are pharmacological inhibitors of the enzyme that produces these fatty acids.

Read the full press release by Université de Montréal

Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be accelerated by an abnormal build-up of fat in the brain

Original research article:

Hamilton LK, Dufresne M, Joppé SE, Petryszyn S, Aumont A, Calon F,
Barnabé-Heider F, Furtos A, Parent M, Chaurand P, Fernandes KJ. Aberrant Lipid Metabolism in the Forebrain Niche Suppresses Adult Neural Stem Cell Proliferation in an Animal Model of Alzheimer’s Disease. Cell Stem Cell. 2015 Aug 26. pii: S1934-5909(15)00356-2. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2015.08.001.