Activating the Brain's 'Fountain of Youth' with Oleic Acid

By: April Carson



Memory disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and mood disorders like depression are common causes of cognitive and mood deterioration in individuals who reach advanced ages, which many people dread.


A group at Baylor College of Medicine and the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (Duncan NRI) at Texas Children's Hospital discovered a missing component to the puzzle of how memory and mood are sustained and regulated in the brain.


The researchers discovered that oleic acid produced in the brain is an essential component of the mechanism that allows learning and memory and ensures good mood management. The discovery has paved the way to finding new therapeutic options for patients with neurological diseases who are experiencing cognitive and emotional deterioration.


“Scientists used to believe that the adult mammalian brain was unable to repair and renew," says Dr. Mark A. Edwards, an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson School for Medical Sciences in a press statement. According to him, this research was published in The Journal of Neuroscience on June 7 and 8, 2019, which suggests that it has been known since then.”


“The adult mammalian brain's hippocampal region has the ability to generate new neurons, repair and regenerate itself, allowing learning and memory as well as mood regulation throughout adulthood," said Dr. Mirjana Maletic-Savatic, associate professor of pediatrics-neurology at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas and an investigator with the Duncan NRI.


“Since neurogenesis was discovered, it has been considered the fountain of youth. However, as people get older, their brains produce less new neurons, which has been linked to cognitive decline and sadness.”


The authors conducted this research to find a technique to tap into the fountain of youth and reignite the process of neurogenesis, which might be hindered or lost as we age.


“Nobody knew how to activate TLX,” said co-corresponding author Dr. Damian Young, associate professor of pharmacology and chemical biology and of pathology at Baylor and Texas Children's Health Sciences Center. “We already knew that neurogenesis has a 'master regulator,' a protein within neural stem cells called TLX that is important in the generation of new neurons. We just didn't know what triggered it to do so. Nobody knew how to turn it on,” he continued.


“We learned that a common fatty acid called oleic acid binds to TLX, which stimulates cell growth and neurogenesis in the hippocampus of both young and old mice,” says co-first author Dr. Prasanna Kandel, who was in the graduate program of Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences at Baylor while conducting this research.


“In order to stimulate TLX, this oleic acid is generated within the neural stem cells in the brain.”


However, omega-6 PUFA was not as effective as oleic acid in terms of increasing brain oleic acid levels. Although olive oil has a lot of oleic acid, it wouldn't be an efficient source since it would most likely not reach the brain. It must be created by cells on its own.


The discovery that oleic acid regulates TLX activation has significant therapeutic consequences.


“The ability of TLX to be activated naturally in the brain allows us to create medicines that can enter the brain and stimulate neurogenesis,” Young added.


“This technique could be utilized to treat diseases like major depression and Alzheimer's disease. This is really exciting since it offers a new approach for treating these deadly illnesses that desperately need better therapies.”


“I am confident that the present findings and future associated research will have a substantial impact on individuals who require better and more efficient treatments, such as my mother who has clinical depression,” Kandel added.


The next step for the team is to move this basic research into preclinical animal models to see if they can further improve on their findings.


The study was published in the journal Nature Medicine.









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About the Blogger:


April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com


To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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