BEIJING, Oct. 17 (Xinhuanet) –People with extra abdominal fat are three times more likely than lean individuals to develop memory loss and dementia later in life, according to a new study published in the current edition of the journal Cell Reports.
Scientists found that in people with a large amount of belly fat, the liver needs to use more PPARalpha, a certain protein, to work overtime to burn belly fat, while the brain uses PPARalpha process memory as well.
The process of burning fat essentially depletes the brain of PPAR alpha, thus hindering memory and learning, said researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Researchers raised mice that were deficient in PPARalpha. Some mice had normal PPARalpha in the liver but depleted PPARalpha in the brain, and had poor memory and learning abilities. Others had normal PPARalpha in the brain but not the liver, and showed normal memory, as expected.
When the researchers injected PPARalpha into the brains of PPARalpha-deficient mice, their learning and memory improved.
The surprising discovery in the new study is that the brain uses PPARalpha to process memory and learning, and that this is a possible reason for the connection between belly fat and memory loss.
PPARalpha thus provides a new avenue to explore in searching for a treatment for Alzheimer's disease and related memory-loss and cognition problems, said Kalipada Pahan, a neurological sciences professor at Rush University.