Study: Restoring metabolism of myeloid cells reverses cognitive decline in ageing (Nature, January 2021)
This fascinating animal study investigates the changes in metabolism in brain cells linked to Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline in aging.
Alzheimer’s has been dubbed as “type 3 diabetes” by some researchers due to the changes in the way glucose is used in the brain. In addition to the decreased energy in the brain cells, an increase in inflammation is seen in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
In this study, the researchers showed that energy production is reduced in microglia and macrophages in response to increased prostaglandin E2, an inflammatory signal. Specifically, prostaglandin E2 caused glucose to be stored as glycogen rather than being used for cellular energy production.
Most importantly, the study showed that inhibiting the EP2 receptor for prostaglandin E2 in myeloid cells was sufficient to increase cellular energetics. Blocking that prostaglandin EP2 receptor reversed cognitive aging in mice.
This is interesting because epidemiological studies that show that NSAID usage is linked to lower Alzheimer’s risk. NSAIDs block prostaglandin E2. Fish oil is also slightly preventative for Alzheimer’s – and also decreases prostaglandin E2. It is great to see the research that ties all of this together – inflammation, changes to glucose usage, and decreased energy in microglial cells. But even more important was that blocking the EP2 receptor seemed to reverse the cognitive aging problems (in mice).