Is this Pearl Harbor Day for Alzheimer’s disease?

On December 7, 2016 (Pearl Harbor Day) it was announced that flickering LED lights activate microglial cells (macrophages) in visual cortex of the brain that cleans up beta amyloid plaque.

The effect was only temporary but was sustained with week-long exposure to flickering LED lights.  Light therapy reduced the amount of plaque by 50% in the visual cortex area of the brain, not the hippocampus involved in Alzheimer’s disease.  The experiment conducted in laboratory animals suggests there may be a non-invasive/non-medical way to reduce beta amyloid plaque deposits in the brain. [Daily Mail Dec 7, 2016; Nature Dec 7, 2016]

However, this approach is impractical.  There would be obvious side effects from chronic exposure to flickering light in humans.  And cyclical exposure to light in the eye has also been shown to result in accumulation of beta-amyloid deposits in the retina, the same deposits that are observed in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease! [BMC Neuroscience March 24, 2012]

Microglia are the resident immune cells in the brain and retina that protect against invading microbes (bacteria, viruses) and help clear cellular debris.  However, over-activated microglia can promoted inflammation that is the hallmark sign of Alzheimer’s disease and macular degeneration of the retina.  [Clinical Experimental Pharmacology Physiology Aug 2013]

Normalizing the microglial response to abate inflammation, which is the hallmark sign of aging in the body, is a topic that this author has addressed in the past.  [Knowledge of Health]

It is now understood that efforts to avert or slow the onset of macular degeneration at the back of the human eye may also allay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain via normalization of the microglia. [Experimental Brain Research Nov 2014; Medical Hypotheses 2006]  The eye certainly is the window to the body.

In other words, eye doctors who can directly observe and capture digital images of the human retina are in a position to indirectly monitor disease progression in the brain.  [Experimental Brain Research Nov 2014; Frontiers Cellular Neuroscience 2013]  Brain tissues do not need to be biopsied as an internal view of the nervous system is achieved in the transparent eye.

A vaccine has been experimentally used to wake up sluggish microglia in the brain but further study had to be halted due to side effects. [Acta Neuropathologica Sept 2010]

Small molecules such as the red wine molecule resveratrol and curcumin from turmeric spice can be orally consumed and pass through the blood/brain, blood/retinal barrier be orally consumed to help normalize the microglial immune response.  [PLoS One March 7, 2016]

Vitamin D works synergistically with polyphenols such as resveratrol to normalize the immune response in the eye and brain. [Knowledge of Health]

Vitamin B1 (thiamin) deficiency exacerbates the accumulation of beta amyloid plaque and tau protein in the brain.  Accumulation of tau protein is correlated with memory deficits whereas beta amyloid accumulation is not. [Nature Reviews Neurology Dec 2013]  Many older adults have significant beta amyloid plaque buildup in the brain but no memory problems.

The red wine molecule resveratrol works to promote the disposal (efflux) of beta amyloid from the brain via its ability to bind to (chelate) copper. [Journal Biological Chemistry Nov 2005]  Resveratrol inhibits aggregation of tau protein. [Journal Neuroscience Research Feb 2014]  Resveratrol protects cells in the thinking lobe of the brain (hippocampus) from tau protein mental impairment in laboratory animals. [Age April 2014]  For further education: Knowledge of Health