A specific combination of essential amino acids may help protect against the development of dementia, according to a new study from Japanese researchers with the National Institute for Quantum Sciences and Technology. Key to the research is protein and the role it plays in brain health, among other things, with the researchers noting that low protein diets sped up the rate of brain degeneration in mice.
The study involves a supplement called Amino LP7, which contains seven essential amino acids. The researchers previously studied the supplement, finding that it offered improvements in cognitive function. This latest study looked into whether the same specific combination of amino acids can offer protection against the development of dementia in old age.
One of the study’s lead scientists, Dr. Makoto Higuchi, explained:
In older individuals, low protein diets are linked to poor maintenance of brain function. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. So, we wanted to understand whether supplementation with essential amino acids can protect the brains of older people from dementia, and if yes, what mechanisms would contribute to this protective effect.
The study involved lab mice, first establishing that a low-protein diet in Alzheimer’s models revealed both poorer neuronal connectivity and faster brain degeneration. The mice were given the amino acid supplement, which the researchers say reversed the issues. Additional research showed that LP7 reduced brain degeneration by suppressing the rate of neuronal death.
The improvements were observed despite the continued presence of tau plaques in the brain, indicating it is possible to help protect the brain from degeneration regardless. Among other things, the scientists found that these amino acids reduced brain inflammation and prevented an inflammatory compound called kynurenine from entering the brain.