Polyunsaturated fatty acid oxidation in Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Simon Smith

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder which has been characterised with genetic (apolipoproteins), protein (ß-amyloid and tau) and lipid oxidation/metabolism alterations in its pathogenesis. In conjunction with the Dementia Research Group, Bristol University, investigation into genetic, protein and lipid oxidation in Alzheimer’s disease was conducted. A large sample cohort using the double-blind criteria, along with various clinical and chemical data sets were used to improve the statistical analysis and therefore the strength of this particular study. Bristol University completed genetic and protein analysis with lipid oxidation assays performed at Aston University. Lipid oxidation is a complex process that creates various biomarkers, from transient intermediates, to short carbon chain products and cyclic ring structures. Quantification of these products was performed on lipid extracts of donated clinical diseased and non-diseased frontal and temporal brain regions, from the Brain Bank within Frenchay Hospital. The initial unoxidised fatty acids, first transient oxidation intermediates the conjugated dienes and lipid hydroperoxides, the endpoint aldehyde biomarkers and finally the cyclic isoprostanes and neuroprostanes were determined to investigate lipid oxidation in Alzheimer’s. Antioxidant levels were also investigated to observe the effect of oxidation on the defence pathways. Assays utilised in this analysis included; fatty acid composition by GC-FID, conjugated diene levels by HPLC-UV and UV-spec, lipid hydroperoxide levels by FOX, aldehyde content by TBARs, antioxidant status by TEAC and finally isoprostane and neuroprostane quantification using a newly developed EI-MS method. This method involved the SIM of specific ions from F-ring isoprostane and neuroprostane fragmentation, which enabled EI-MS to be used for their quantification. Analyses demonstrated that there was no significant difference between control and Alzheimer samples across all the oxidation biomarkers for both brain regions. Antioxidants were the only marker that showed a clear variance; with Alzheimer samples having higher levels than the age matched controls. This unique finding is supported with the observed lower levels of lipid oxidation biomarkers in Alzheimer brain region samples. The increased antioxidant levels indicate protection against oxidation which may be a host response to counteract the oxidative pathways, but this requires further investigation. In terms of lipid oxidation, no definitive markers or target site for therapeutic intervention have been revealed. This study concludes that dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids or antioxidants would most likely be ineffective against Alzheimer disease, although it may support improvement in other areas of general health.
Date of Award10 Nov 2011
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGareth Griffiths (Supervisor)


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • lipid oxidation
  • neuroprostanes
  • antioxidants

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