A high-fat diet can carry health risks, but for mothers-to-be, it may make all the difference when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease prevention for their children. In a report published online August 26 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University show for the first time in animals that high maternal fat consumption during gestation protects offspring against changes in the brain that are characteristic of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
“In humans, it has been known that individuals whose mothers develop Alzheimer’s disease after age 65 are at increased risk of also developing the disease around the same age,” said senior investigator Domenico Praticò, MD, Scott Richards North Star Foundation Chair for Alzheimer’s Research, Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology, and Director of the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine.
“Our findings suggest that, to be effective, Alzheimer’s disease prevention probably needs to start very early in life, during gestation,” Dr. Praticò said. “Diet at this specific life stage can have critical, but underestimated, long-term impacts on brain health.”
Dr. Praticò and colleagues plan next to compare the effects of a high-fat diet to those of other diets, including diets high in sugar and protein and diets resembling the Mediterranean diet in humans. “We also want to see whether our findings can be replicated in wild-type animals” Dr. Praticò added.