Why Excessive Alcohol Increases The Risk of Alzheimer’s?

Why Excessive Alcohol Increases The Risk of Alzheimer’s?

Alcohol would prevent the brain from getting rid of the amyloid proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer’s characteristic plaques in the brain.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the presence of amyloid plaques, protein clusters that hinder the transmission of nerve messages. People who consume a lot of alcohol are more likely to develop this disease. Studies suggest that alcohol consumption will affect brain inflammation, but a new study suggests alcohol may alter the protective mechanisms of the brain.

What the study shows

In an article in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, researchers at the University of Illinois identified a pathway through which alcohol impairs protective mechanisms for the brain. They used rat microglial cells, that is, immune cells in the brain that are able to “eat” phagocytosis of the amyloid protein that forms plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.

For 24 hours, the researchers exposed the microglial cells to alcohol, cytokines (pro-inflammatory molecules) or both. They observed that alcohol altered the expression of 312 genes, the cytokines of 3082 genes and the two together 3552 genes. Douglas Feinstein, one of the authors of the study, explains that among these genes whose expression was altered, “many were involved in phagocytosis.

When scientists exposed the cells to excessive consumption levels of alcohol, the ability of microglial cells to eliminate beta-amyloid peptide decreased by 15% in just one hour. The researcher concludes: “Alcohol prevents microglia from keeping the brain safe from beta-amyloid and can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. 

In other words, the alcohol would interfere with the phagocytosis carried out by the microglial cells, which would increase the risk of neurodegeneration of the neurons.

In practice

Excessive alcohol consumption promotes Alzheimer’s disease, but a little alcohol can also be good for the brain. If, every day, it is recommended to drink 1.5 L to 2 L of water, a glass of wine a day for women and two glasses of wine a day for men are allowed as part of a balanced diet , like the Mediterranean diet. Then prefer red wine, which contains more polyphenols and preferably from organic farming.

In The End of Alzheimer’s, Dr. Bredesen advises a protective diet with a diet low in carbohydrates, preferably gluten-free, ultra-processed products and based primarily on plants.

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