Neurological scientists at the Rush University Medical Center in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health have discovered that same protein that controls fat metabolism in the liver resides in the memory center of the brain (hippocampus) and controls memory and learning.
Kalipada Pahan, PhD, the Floyd A. Davis professor of neurology at Rush University Medical Centerm, said that better understanding is needed about how fat is connected to memory and learning so that effective approach to protect memory and learning can be developed.
The liver is the body's major fat metabolizing organ. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha) is known to control fat metabolism in the liver. Accordingly, PPARalpha is highly expressed in the liver.
Since PPARalpha directly controls fat metabolism, people with abdominal fat levels have depleted PPARalpha in the liver and abnormal lipid metabolism.
According to Pahan, at first, these individuals lose PPARalpha from the liver and then eventually from the whole body including the brain. Therefore, abdominal fat is an early indication of some kind of dementia later in life.
The study has been published in journal Cell Reports.