Reducing Dietary Protein for the Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease
Co-Principal InvestigatorsJulien Bensalem, PhD
We will determine if reduction of dietary protein reduces the signs of Alzheimer's disease by increasing a cellular recycling process called autophagy.This project uses both mouse models of Alzheimer's disease and a human cohort to investigate the effects of adjusting dietary protein in mid-life. Aim 1 will use a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease that will allow us to determine if reducing dietary protein prevents the accumulation of hallmark amyloid plaques in the brain by increasing autophagy. Aim 2 will use a new blood test developed by our research group that will determine if reducing dietary protein increases autophagy in people in mid-life.
Reducing dietary protein intake may improve health-span by mimicking the healthy effects of caloric restriction, which is known to decrease age-related disease and increase lifespan in research models. In this study, we will apply the concept of reducing dietary protein to Alzheimer's disease. We predict that reducing dietary protein will delay Alzheimer's by increasing autophagy, which we are measuring in humans for the first time using a blood test that we have developed at SAHMRI.If this research is successful in demonstrating that reducing dietary protein delays the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease in mice through increasing autophagy, and that reduction of dietary protein in humans also increases autophagy, we will be able to progress to the next stage in our research. This will determine whether reduction of dietary protein interacts with Alzheimer's disease biomarkers. This program of research has the potential to identify modifiable lifestyle factors that can be used to delay dementia, and the biological mechanisms these interventions work through.