Can Brain Arginine Reduce Alzheimer’s?

Duke University researchers believe they have found a new cause of Alzheimer’s disease. In a very recent paper, they report that immunity decline in the brain is due to a deficiency of the vital amino acid arginine. Arginine makes nitric oxide—a vasculature relaxing factor, which is instrumental for proper brain functioning.

The researchers show that microglia and arginase work together in a mouse model to cause arginine breakdown, which inhibits the brain’s immune system. Microglia are certain immune cells that normally protect the brain, but start to consume arginine with the help of arginase, an enzyme that breaks down arginine.

While the Duke researchers show that an anticancer drug can suppress arginase, and disrupt arginine breakdown—thus protecting the mice from Alzheimer’s-like pathology—they did not consider increased consumption of arginine to accomplish the same thing.

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