Health experts are constantly looking for new ways to delay dementia. But, according to ASBMB Today, an award-winning news magazine published by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, there is one practice that Alzheimer’s disease patients may want to halt.
Serine supplements are often advertised as remedies for Alzheimer’s disease that can improve memory and cognitive function.
A new study led by the University of California San Diego claims that increased levels of the enzyme PHGDH in the blood could be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease. The findings further explain that dietary and cognitive supplement users should be cautious. The study claims that, because the PHGDH enzyme is a key part of the production of serine, taking serine supplements may not be beneficial to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and might even make things worse.
Research published in the journal Cell Metabolism supported the correlation between PHGDH levels, cognitive ability and dementia symptoms.
“The fact that this gene’s expression level directly correlates with both a person’s cognitive ability and disease pathology is remarkable,” Sheng Zhong, a professor of bioengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, told ASBMB Today. “Being able to quantify both of these complex metrics with a single molecular measurement could potentially make diagnosis and monitoring progression of Alzheimer’s disease much simpler.”
Some researches have pushed back against this theory, claiming that PHGDH expression is actually lower in Alzheimer’s disease patients — making serine supplements a useful tool for combating dementia symptoms. This latest research, however, supports the possibility that serine supplements are potentially pushing these patients in the wrong direction.
“Anyone looking to recommend or take serine to mitigate Alzheimer’s symptoms should exercise caution,” Riccardo Calandrelli, who is a research associate in Zhong’s lab, told ASBMB Today.
To get specialized news and articles about aging in place, health information and more, sign up for our Aging in Atlanta newsletter.