The study by researchers of the University of Ulm (partly fundedby the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme) was presented in the
Around 700.000 people in Germany are diagnosed as havingAlzheimer’s disease. Symptoms include lack of orientation,cognitive decline and absentmindedness, triggered by amyloid betaplaques, degeneration of fibrillae and synapse loss.
Evaluating 74 Alzheimer’s patients and 158 healthy controlsbetween the ages of 65 and 90, the researchers discovered that theserum concentration of the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-caroteneare much lower in patients with mild dementia than in controlpersons. It should be noted that the subjects were gender-matchedand of the same age. The subjects’ blood and body mass index (BMI)were measured for the study as well.
The researchers said that oxidative stress contributes to thedevelopment of Alzheimer’s disease. Oxidative stress constrains theexploitation of oxygen in humans. The team believes that so-calledantioxidants could potentially protect the body againstneurodegeneration.
For the purposes of their study, the scientists looked atwhether the serum levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene,lycopene and coenzyme Q10 are much lower in the blood of patientssuffering from Alzheimer’s.
‘In order to possibly influence the onset and development ofAlzheimer’s disease, we need to be aware of potential riskfactors,’ said Dr Gabriele Nagel of the University of Ulm.
Not all antioxidants work
The team found that the concentration of vitamin C andbeta-carotene in the serum of Alzheimer’s patients was much lowerthan in the blood of control subjects. No such difference wasobserved between the groups with respect to the other antioxidants(vitamin E, lycopene and coenzyme Q10). The researchers includedpotential confounding factors like BMI, civil status, education,and consumption of alcohol and tobacco in their statisticalanalysis.
They found that the storage and preparation of food, andstressors in the patients’ lives could have impacted the findings.’Longitudinal studies with more participants are necessary toconfirm the result that vitamin C and beta-carotene might preventthe onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease,’ said DrNagel.