Prepared Foods September 27, 2004 enewsletter

New York researchers say dietary fat may increase the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease.

Neil Shachter of Columbia University, in a study summarized in the latest issue of the Journal of Lipid Research, said a component of dietary fat known as triglycerides increases the amount of beta-amyloid inside cells, though differently than does cholesterol.

Using cultured cells, Shachter found that triglycerides increase the amount of a molecule called presenilin. The increase in presenilin level then increases the amount of beta-amyloid in the cell.

A worldwide effort to find drugs that limit the activity of presenilin is already underway, Shachter says. He suggests his new findings may lead to more effective treatments that rid the cell of excess presenilin altogether, by decreasing fat delivery.

Most researchers believe beta-amyloid is the primary cause of Alzheimer's.