Newswise — Dayan B. Goodenowe and colleagues report in the November 2007 issue of the Journal of Lipid Research that people with Alzheimer's disease and related conditions exhibit decreased blood levels of an important brain chemical called ethanolamine plasmalogen, even at the very early stages of the disease. The scientists have also found that this decrease is more pronounced when the symptoms are more severe. Alzheimer's disease and related conditions, grouped under the name dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT), mostly affect elderly people. These conditions are not easily diagnosed because they can arise from many different causes, some of which that are not well known. Although the relationship between blood levels of ethanolamine plasmalogens and the severity of DAT is not completely understood, the new discovery may improve the diagnosis of DAT and help patients make decisions about how to cope with the disease.

The scientists suggest that the observed decrease of ethanolamine plasmalogens may result in decreased release and subsequent decreased activity of acetylcholine, a critical brain chemical involved in memory formation and whose activity is known to be reduced in DAT patients. So correcting the ethanolamine plasmalogen deficit in DAT may slow or correct the acetylcholine deficit in DAT patients.

The researchers conclude that clinical trials involving restoration of ethanolamine plasmalogens should be undertaken to determine its efficacy in the treatment and/or prevention of DAT.

Article: "Peripheral Ehanolamine Plasmalogen Deficiency: A Logical Causative Factor in Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia," by Dayan B. Goodenowe, Lisa L. Cook, Jun Liu, Yingshen Lu, Dushmanthi A. Jayasinghe, Pearson W.K. Ahiahonu, Doug Heath, Yasuyo Yamazaki, John Flax, Kevin F. Krenitsky, D. L. Sparks, Alan Lerner, Robert P. Friedland, Takashi Kudo, Kouzin Kamino, Takashi Morihara, Masatoshi Takeda, and Paul L. Wood

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with over 11,900 members in the United States and internationally. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, nonprofit research institutions and industry. The Society's student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions.

Founded in 1906, the Society is based in Bethesda, Maryland, on the campus of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The Society's purpose is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through publication of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the Journal of Lipid Research, and Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific work force. For more information about ASBMB, see the Society's Web site at http://www.asbmb.org.

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