Copper linked to Alzheimer’s?

Two Indian scientists from US have helped  to implicate copper as a key element that drives the changes in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease, an incurable neuro-degenerative disorder whose study of genes remains a mystery. This brilliant research has been published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research was conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Center suggests that slow accumulation of copper may accelerate the production of a toxic protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease and is able to disrupt the natural biological process that eliminates it. While scientists have guessed about the possible role of copper in Alzheimer’s disease, but the new research which was conducted by Itender Singh and Abhay Sagare and their colleagues for the first time provides insights of molecular mechanisms which link copper to Alzheimer’s disease.

“We think that excess copper can cause Alzheimer’s disease”, said Rashid Deane, research professor at the Rochester’s department of neurosurgery who designed and lead the study based on experiments on laboratory mice [as reported to The Telegraph].

Copper is obvious to be present source through food supply, like in drinking water carried by copper pipes, nutritional supplements, and several foods like red meat, nuts, and many fruits and vegetables. Copper is known to play an important role in nerve function, bone growth and also in hormone secretion. The findings highlight that the intake of even low levels of copper over a long period of time could contribute to an accumulation of toxic “amyloid beta” protein which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Identification also reveals that relatively low levels of copper of around 10percent of the maximum permissible limit in drinking water set by the US Environmental Protection Agency – caused a decrease in the elimination of amyloid beta protein from the brain.

Deane reported to The Telegraph (Aug 20, 2013), that copper damages the transporter protein that ferries amyloid beta protein from the brain to the blood for elimination. The study even focused that copper also causes inflammation of the brain. “We will need more studies to validate these findings and understand the process better” – said Singh, who graduated from Rohtak, Haryana and obtained a PhD from Delhi before moving to the US for post doctoral research.

Source: The Telegraph (Aug 20, 2013)