Vitamin D Found Beneficial for Alzheimer’s Patients

May 4, 2012 § 1 Comment

A study published in the March 6th issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reveals that vitamin D3 might stimulate the immune system to clean out the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This vitamin regulates intracellular mechanisms, including ones that trigger cell-signaling networks that arouse the immune system to clear the brain of amyloid beta – the constituent of Alzheimer’s related brain plaques.

After previous laboratory work revealed that specific types of immune cells in Alzheimer’s patients respond to vitamin D3 and curcumin – a chemical found in turmeric spice – by prompting the immune system to clear the amyloid beta, researchers were intrigued. They just needed to find out how this happened.

For this recent study, researchers took blood samples from both Alzheimer’s patients and healthy individuals. They drew macrophages from each sample. These are immune cells that devour waste material such as the amyloid beta. These macrophages were then incubated with the amyloid beta. 1a,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, a form of vitamin D3 produced in a conversion process within the liver and kidneys, was added to a few of the cells to test the effect it had on the amyloid beta assimilation.

A previous study of Alzheimer’s patients’ macrophages revealed two different types of patients and macrophages. They are divided into Type I, which are improved by the addition of 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 and curcuminoids, and Type II, which are improved only by the addition of 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3. Both types of macrophages benefited from the addition of 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 because it opened up chloride channel 3 (CLC3), the chloride channel responsible for  the phagocytosis (uptake) of the amyloid beta. This channel was only activated by curcuminoids in Type I macrophages. Researchers also found that the 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 helped generate the genetic transcription of itself, leading to gene expression.

In a partnership between Dr. Patrick R. Griffin of the Scripps Research Institute and Dr. Mathew T. Mizwicki, assistant research biochemist of UC Riverside, the effects of 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 were demonstrated through a technique based on mass spectrometry. It revealed that 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 provided more stability to the vitamin D receptor than the curcuminoids.

Mizwicki, the study’s main author, said, “Our findings demonstrate that active forms of vitamin D3 may be an important regulator of immune activities of macrophages in helping to clear amyloid plaques by directly regulating the expression of genes, as well as the structural physical workings of the cells.”

This study has helped clarify some key mechanisms that will help doctors and scientists better understand the value of vitamin D3 and curcumin as possible therapies for Alzheimer’s patients. Although it is too early to recommend vitamin D3 as a therapy, according to the research team, the next stage of their research will involve clinical trials to validate its dispensation for the treatment of the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Works Cited

“Scientists Pinpoint How Vitamin D May Help Clear Amyloid Plaques Found in Alzheimer’s Disease”. (March 6, 2012). Neuroscience News. March 9, 2012.



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