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Vitamin D reported to clear Alzheimer's plaques

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2012-03-06 14:57

LOS ANGELES, CA – Amyloid beta is the main component of plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Now, UCLA researchers have discovered intracellular mechanisms regulated by Vitamin D3, which may stimulate the immune system to clear the brain of this substance. They published their findings on March 6 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The researchers noted that they had conducted a previous study that demonstrated that specific types of immune cells in Alzheimer's patients may respond to therapy with Vitamin D3 and curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric spice. These substances stimulated the immune system to clear amyloid beta; however, the researchers did not know the underlying mechanism.

"This new study helped clarify the key mechanisms involved, which will help us better understand the usefulness of vitamin D3 and curcumin as possible therapies for Alzheimer's disease," noted study author Dr. Milan Fiala, a researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

For the study, the researchers drew blood samples from Alzheimer's patients and healthy controls; they then isolated critical immune cells from the blood called macrophages, which are responsible for engulfing amyloid beta and other waste products in the brain and body. The investigators incubated the immune cells overnight with amyloid beta. An active form of Vitamin D3 (1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3), which is manufactured within the body by enzymatic conversion in the liver and kidneys, was added to some of the cells to measure the effect it had on amyloid beta absorption.

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