HYDERABAD: Scientists from the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) have established a link between lead toxicity and Alzheimer’s disease, which causes a progressive loss of memory.
They have also found that food products such as green tea, guava leaves, cherries, apples, pears and black berries have a compound called Epigallocatechin Gallate (EPCG) that can help in preventing the disease as well as providing therapeutic solutions to Alzheimer’s patients.
Lead toxicity is one of the major human health concerns of environmental pollution, as the metal is used in various industries and is a common contaminant. Exposure to lead can also occur through various sources including paint, water pipes and even through dust or soil.
Though it has been known for long that lead exposure can cause Alzheimer’s disease, the mechanism of how it happens was unknown till now. The NIN scientists headed by senior scientist Dr Suresh Challa simulated brain cells with beta amyloid protein and conducted an in vitro study. “We investigated the basic molecular mechanism behind the involvement of lead in Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr Challa.
Beta amyloid is a protein in the brain, a prime suspect known for causing Alzheimer’s disease. When beta amyloid protein gets accumulated, it forms a layer of plaque over brain cells. It causes a disruption in communication between the cells that results in their death, and that causes Alzheimer’s disease.
The NIN scientists observed that when the simulated brain cells are exposed to lead, there is a rise in beta amyloid protein accumulation in the brain cells due to alteration of intracellular calcium levels, and an increase in their death.
They also found that proteins involved in the development of the brain and regeneration of brain cells deplete after their exposure to lead. Such effects lead to loss of memory.The findings have been published in this month’s edition of Chemico-Biological Interactions.