Vitamin D has been lauded in past research for its possible beneficial effect against the amyloid plaques that are key in Alzheimer's disease, but a new study shows just how they may work in clearing the plaques.
Research published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease shows that vitamin D3 may work by activating certain genes and cell signaling networks to ramp up the immune system, which then clears away a key component of amyloid plaques called amyloid-beta protein.
"This new study helped clarify the key mechanisms involved, which will help us better understand the usefulness of vitamin D3 and curcumin as possible therapies for Alzheimer's disease," study researcher Dr. Milan Fiala, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, said in a statement.
Researchers conducted the study by taking blood samples from people with and without Alzheimer's disease, and isolating particular immune cells from the blood that are responsible for clearing away the amyloid-beta protein.
The scientists have conducted past research on vitamin D's role against Alzheimer's, also published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in 2009. In that study, they found that vitamin D3, together with the spice curcumin, work together to get the immune system to have its effects against amyloid-beta protein in the brain. They reported that vitamin D3 mainly comes from sunshine.
Another study, published in 2010 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that people with low vitamin D blood levels have a higher risk of cognitive decline, WebMD reported.