Study Demonstrates New Role For DHA In Alzheimer's Disease

Armen Hareyan's picture

In a recent pre-clinical study an omega-3 fatty acid found in algae called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, was found to decrease an important risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease. Conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles using a mouse model, a diabetic rat model, and cultured human cells, the study found that DHA increases the production of LR11, a protein vital to clearing the brain of the enzymes that make the beta amyloid plaques that are thought to cause Alzheimer's disease. The investigators used Martek's DHA from microalgae for a portion of the research.

Alzheimer's patients are known to have reduced levels of LR11 which is a member of the ApoE/low density lipoprotein receptor family. DHA was shown in this study to increase the production of LR11. The publication suggests that DHA may be most useful for early intervention and prevention of late-onset AD. Late-onset Alzheimer's is the most common form of the disease. It occurs later in life and has no obvious family inheritance pattern. However, several risk factor genes may interact with each other and with environmental factors to cause the disease.


This study adds to the growing body of evidence demonstrating that DHA may play a role in decreasing the risk for Alzheimer's disease. The National Institutes of Health is now funding a multi-million dollar clinical study on the effects of vegetarian DHA from microalgae in slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The vegetarian DHA used in the NIH study is manufactured by Martek. Results from this NIH clinical study will be available in 2010.

"This study adds to the evidence supporting the important brain health benefits provided by an enhanced DHA status, and there are a number of ongoing studies investigating the role of DHA in reducing the risk for neurological diseases like Alzheimer's," said Dr. Edward B. Nelson, vice president of medical research for Martek.

Martek's life'sDHA is a vegetarian form of DHA omega-3, a long chain omega-3 fatty acid that serves as a primary building block for the brain and the eye and supports brain, eye and cardiovascular health throughout life. There is a large and growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating that people of all ages, from infants to aging adults, benefit from an adequate supply of DHA omega-3 in the diet. Scientific reviews have noted the importance of DHA omega-3 in proper brain and eye development and function, and there are clinical studies underway to evaluate its role in decreasing the prevalence of certain neurological disorders. Yet despite its importance, Americans have among the lowest dietary intakes of DHA omega-3 in the world.

Martek's life'sDHA is unique in the market because it is derived from a sustainable and vegetarian source. Made from microalgae under tightly controlled manufacturing conditions, life'sDHA is free of oceanic contaminants that may be present in certain fish or fish oils. Microalgae are the only vegetarian source of DHA omega-3, the key omega-3 for brain and eye development and function.