Sunday, January 13, 2013

EGCG/green tea, Prevention of Encephalopathy, and Alzheimer's Disease in Down's Syndrome

I had my first concussion in second grade. I was playing soccer in the beehive league (where all the girls run after the ball like a hive of bees). For that quarter of the game I had been stuck as goalie. So I was staring off into space when all of a sudden this girl who had been held back a year or two in school (much bigger than the rest of us) had a breakaway and kicked the ball really hard at the goal, smacking me in the head and knocking me out. I remember later asking my dad if he thought that the other girls would have stopped the goal....

Since then I have had several other concussions including once hitting my head very hard against the pavement after falling off my bike while going too fast and not wearing a helmet. Hence, when I hear about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), it scares the living daylights out of me. And there has been increasing amounts of evidence regarding its profound effects including the latest published research on Junior Seau who shot himself last year. There is further evidence that even veterans exposed to roadside bombs have CTE. Here is a nice picture show of brains of athletes with CTE:

What can I do about it? It is difficult to say because the current literature doesn't say very much regarding successful interventions. Therefore, instead of relying on statistically significant interventions in the general population, there are a few things that I am trying out based on my knowledge and logic. These include preventing chronic hypertension and atherosclerosis from my endogenously high cholesterol (which compromises the brain vasculature and architecture), exercising regularly (which increases neurogenesis, or the birth of new neurons in the brain), taking fatty acids like Omega-3s, and drinking green tea.

Why green tea? Well, I am just so glad you asked! First of all, tau is being found in the brains of people with alzheimer's disease along with traumatic encephalopathy. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy further includes compromised vasculature. The flavonols in green tea are potent antioxidants that may limit the build up of oxidative damage throughout the cells. These means no oxidants to further compromise the integrity of my vasculature, my neurons (main thinking cells), or my glial cells (support cells whose function is just as important as that of the glial cells). For this purpose I also take omega-3s and phosphatidyl serine, but that is another post.

An interesting model of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is in Down Syndrome (DS) where behavioral evidence of AD begins in the 40s and 50s. According to our teacher, who is a medical pathologist and identifies causes of death for a living, ~100% of DS patients she has autopsied have neurological evidence of AD by the age of 50. It is not uncommon to see evidence of AD as early as thirty. This early onset AD is thought to be at least partially, if not fully, due to the increased expression/concentration/activity of a protein (Dyrk1a) that modulates the activity of many many other proteins including ones responsible for brain development and ones responsible for homocysteine levels. Dyrk1a is thought responsible for the increased risk of leukemia in children with DS along with a decreased risk for solid tumors in adults with DS.

EGCG from green tea has been shown to lower the levels of Dyrk1a in lab animals that have the genetic mutations of DS (trisomy21). These animals have neither the biological changes of AD on autopsy nor the behavioral/reduced mental functioning of AD in memory and behavioral tests. There are currently ongoing medical trials looking at whether EGCG could make a similar improvement in humans. But I say who cares, the evidence is adequate and the treatment (drinking a cup of green tea a day) adequately benign that why wait and see what happens to the average person with DS to see whether it will help me? Drinking green tea is much better than the alternative, which is reading about the problems that all these people are having from brain damage and doing almost nothing.

Oh, and GOOOO RENEE HIGH who is running in Disney marathon right now (1/13/2013 Sunday morning at 8am)! She won last year and we are looking for a good solid run this year! YAYYYY Renee!

1 comment:

  1. Millions of people across the world are experiencing Alzheimer’s disease and it’s been nice to have read this article.

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