α -lipoic acid: How a fatty acid treats Alzheimer’s!

2.4 min readPublished On: 3. April 2024By Categories: antioxidants, forms of treatment, prevention, uncategorized

The steady increase in non-communicable diseases such as dementia means that the pharmaceutical industry is developing more and more drugs, which are often only effective to a limited extent or have serious side effects. In this context, α -lipoic acid is considered a promising natural alternative. α -lipoic acid is a short-chain fatty acid that can be produced by the body itself as well as absorbed from animal and plant foods such as meat, liver and kidneys. But can a fatty acid really effectively counteract a disease such as Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is associated with various factors, including an excessive increase in free oxygen radicals and the associated oxidative stress, even before the classic signs of the disease such as amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles appear. In addition to oxidative stress, a reduced energy supply to the neurons (nerve cells) can be a further risk factor for the disease. Since α -lipoic acid acts as a proenergetic and antioxidant, it seems to unfold its therapeutic potential. In addition to these beneficial effects, the fatty acid can also have an indirect antioxidant effect by regenerating and thus increasing the biologically active forms of other important antioxidants in the brain such as glutathione, coenzyme Q10, vitamin C and E in the brain. In addition, α -lipoic acid has a positive influence on the synthesis of neurotransmitters, which can also be impaired in Alzheimer’s patients [1,3].

α -lipoic acid in Alzheimer’s patients: Long-term study shows promising results

The efficacy of α -lipoic acid in Alzheimer’s patients was demonstrated in a study by Hager et al. group 3 patients with moderately severe dementia at an early stage and group 3 patients with moderately severe dementia at an advanced stage. Over a period of 48 months, all three groups received 600 mg of α-lipoic acid daily as well as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and cognitive training.

The results of the study were impressive: patients who took α -lipoic acid showed a decrease of less than two points in the MMSE and an increase of less than three points in the ADAScog per year. (MMSE and ADAScog are cognitive tests that enable the progression of dementia symptoms to be assessed). Compared with data from the literature, this decline in cognitive abilities can be classified as very slight, which conversely indicates a slower progression of dementia, possibly due to the effect of α -lipoic acid.

The study further suggests that this effect is not due to the cholinesterase inhibitors, as most patients had already been treated with cholinesterase inhibitors for several months before the start of the study and the slower decline persisted beyond the first year of the study. Normally, the positive effects of cholinesterase inhibitors diminish over time [2].

If you want to know more about this fatty acid and its promising effect on dementia, click here.

References

  1. Basile, G. A., Iannuzzo, F., Xerra, F., Genovese, G., Pandolfo, G., Cedro, C., Muscatello, M. R. A., & Bruno, A. (2023). Cognitive and Mood Effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid Supplementation in a Nonclinical Elder Sample: An Open-Label Pilot Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(3), 2358. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20032358
  1. Hager, K., Marahrens, A., Kenklies, M., Riederer, P., & Münch, G. (2001). Alpha-lipoic acid as a new treatment option for Azheimer type dementia. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 32(3), 275-282. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-4943(01)00104-2
  2. Kaur, D., Behl, T., Sehgal, A., Singh, S., Sharma, N., Chigurupati, S., Alhowail, A., Abdeen, A., Ibrahim, S. F., Vargas-De-La-Cruz, C., Sachdeva, M., Bhatia, S., Al-Harrasi, A., & Bungau, S. (2021). Decrypting the potential role of α-lipoic acid in Alzheimer’s disease. Life Sciences, 284, 119899. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2021.119899

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