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Fat Could Be Associated With Memory Loss Neurological Scientists Say

Update Date: Oct 09, 2013 10:52 PM EDT
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Memory problems in middle age may be a result of high amounts of abdominal fat suggests a recent study, which takes a further look at the control of fat metabolism in the liver and the hippocampus, a center of the brain that controls memory and learning.

"Although there are several risk factors of dementia, abnormal fat metabolism has been known to pose a risk for memory and learning. People with high amounts of abdominal fat in their middle age are 3.6 times as likely to develop memory loss and dementia later in their life," according to the Rush University Medical Center.

Researchers discovered that the same protein that controls fat metabolism in the liver, known as Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha), controls memory and resides in the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain. 

Researchers experimented with a bone marrow chimera technique to create mice with normal PPARalpha in the liver and weakened PPARalpha in the brain. These mice lacked in memory and learning skills. 

Interestingly, mice that had normal PPARalpha in the brain and weakened PPARalpha in the liver showed normal memory.

"While PPARalpha deficient mice are poor in learning and memory, injection of PPARα to the hippocampus of PPARalpha deficient mice improves learning and memory," said Kalipada Pahan, PhD, researcher and the Floyd A. Davis professor of neurology at Rush University Medical Center in a news release. 

The study shows that the deffect in memory problems is related to the loss of paralpha in the hippocampus.

"Further research must be conducted to see how we could potentially maintain normal PPARalpha in the brain in order to be resistant to memory loss", said Pahan.

The findings are published in the journal Cell Reports

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