It’s already clear that the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is multifactorial: genetic, toxic, inflammatory, metabolic and nutritional factors seem to act together leading to characteristic pathological changes and consequently to the development of symptoms.
But how can such different disorders, with different mechanisms of action, lead to the development of the same disease? Although this question is not yet fully answered, it is already known that oxidative stress represents a common underlying theme and has an important role in the development and progression of neurodegeneration.
Oxidative stress reflects an imbalance between the systemic effects of reactive oxygen species – also known as free radicals – and the ability to a biological system to repair the resulting damage. In other words, it is an excess of oxidative reactions with the generation of a large amount of potentially toxic substances (free radicals), exceeding the body’s capacity to reestablish the redox (reduction/oxidation) balance. It is important to reinforce that the production of free radicals is a natural consequence of the normal functioning of any organism. The problem only exists when the overproduction of such substances exceeds the ability to get back to a balance state. This underlines the importance of specifically strengthening the antioxidant side in oxidative stress in order to restore the redox balance.
Our brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative stress: It has a high oxygen demand and at the same time a high amount of polyunsaturated fats, which are susceptible to a specific type of oxidative reaction called lipid peroxidation. When brain tissue is under oxidative stress, neurodegeneration can occur rapidly and continuously.
Figuratively speaking: The brain is increasingly “rusting” away!
In order to minimize oxidative stress, it has been suggested that antioxidant therapy could be beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease. The most studied antioxidants for Alzheimer’s disease are: Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, Alfa lipoic acid, Coenzyme Q10, Melatonin, Curcumin and Resveratrol. In the next sections you will find updated information about each one of them.
- Gella A, Durany N. Oxidative stress in Alzheimer disease. Cell Adh Migr. 2009;3(1):88-93. doi:10.4161/cam.3.1.7402