- Researchers studied the effects of krill oil on age-related neurodegeneration and Parkinson’s disease.
- They found that krill oil can protect against many neurodegenerative processes in worms and human cell lines.
- The researchers say their findings warrant further preclinical and clinical research before they are widely recommended.
Marine oils like fish oil have been extensively researched for their health-promoting properties. Until now, however, krill oil has remained relatively understudied.
Krill oil is high in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and choline, an essential nutrient that supports healthy brain development and function.
A study found that krill oil supplements inhibited memory loss in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.
One review also suggested that the lipid nature of krill oil improves bioavailability and absorption efficiency, making it more beneficial than other marine oils for inflammation and cognitive function.
Further study of krill oil could help develop dietary supplements and therapeutics that protect against neurodegeneration.
Recently, researchers studied the effects of krill oil on a roundworm model of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
They found that krill oil protected dopaminergic neurons from age-related degeneration and improved cognition. Degeneration of dopaminergic (DA) neurons is thought to play a key role in Parkinson’s disease.
“The study shows the potential of omega-3 fatty acids, choline and antioxidants to slow the damage caused to neurons by aging. However, it is important to repeat studies in animal models, using appropriate controls. Moreover, the [pretreated] krill oil may be more effective in animal models than natural krill oil.
— Dr. Papasani Subbaiah, professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, speaking to Medical News Today
The study was published in Aging.
The researchers chose to study roundworms because their aging processes are similar to those of humans. Previous research has suggested that krill oil may increase the lifespan of these worms by four days. Their average lifespan is 18 to 20 days.
In the current study, the researchers first measured the effects of krill oil on worm models of PD, characterized by degradation of DA neurons over time.
Worms not treated with krill oil experienced over 30% damage to dopamine neurons after six days. However, worms treated with krill did not experience any reduction in DA neurons.
Accumulations of alpha-synuclein proteins are also a key feature of PD. The researchers found that while the controls had around 50 protein clumps on day 6, those treated with krill oil only had 17.
PD is also known to affect movement. Researchers found that worms fed krill oil had much faster movements and higher activity levels than untreated worms.
They noted that worms with PD did not respond to krill oil, meaning the oil likely acts on key mechanisms underlying aging and PD.
Other experiments showed that krill oil also reduced senescence – the loss of cells’ ability to grow and divide. The researchers reported similar results from tests with human connective tissue cells.
Further tests showed that krill oil caused a 6-fold decrease in oxidative stress in worms and improved cognition. The researchers also found that krill oil promoted genetic activity known to promote healthy aging.
When asked how krill oil might differ from other marine oils in terms of neuroprotection, Dr. Subbaiah, who was not involved in the study, replied DTM that krill oil has specific benefits, including the presence of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the presence of phospholipids and not triglycerides, as in fish oil.
EPA and DHA have several
Dr. James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at the Pellegrino Center at Georgetown University Medical Center, who was not involved in the study, also said DTM that phosphatidylcholine (a phospholipid in krill oil) “confers both greater neuronal uptake and direct membrane stabilizing effects in neuronal infrastructure”.
“This combination of enhanced bioavailability and membrane stabilization is important in promoting the anti-inflammatory and anti-degenerative properties of many active ingredients (omega-3s) found in krill oil.”
— Dr. James Giordano
“Taken together, these properties are helpful in maintaining neuronal structural and functional integrity and reducing age-related inflammatory changes (known as inflammaging),” he added.
The benefits of krill oil
Dr. Subbaiah noted that the choline in krill oil is another benefit. Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and is therefore
Finally, Dr. Subbaiah said that the presence of antioxidants like astaxanthin also makes krill oil beneficial. The
- anticancer activity
- antidiabetic effects
- neuroprotective effects
- promote cardiovascular health
- promote eye health
- promote skin health
Dr. Ali Mohebi, an assistant neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study, said DTM:
“This evidence suggests that while other marine oil compounds elevate various health markers such as blood pressure, cardiovascular function, etc., krill oil may be particularly beneficial in slowing a range of neurodegenerative processes in the brain.”
The researchers concluded that krill oil could support healthy aging in several ways, making it a good candidate for further preclinical and clinical exploration.
Dr. Mohebi noted that neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease progress gradually and symptoms are only expressed in the later stages of the disease. He noted, for example, that motor symptoms do not appear in PD until more than 80% of DA neurons are dead.
“Any solution that would slow down the process of neurodegeneration would significantly improve the quality of life for people who are more susceptible to developing such neurodegenerative disorders. The results of [this study] are promising because they suggest a dietary change that will potentially protect DA neurons against age-related degeneration,” he noted.
He added, however, that these findings do not mean the public should start taking krill oil to treat neurodegeneration.
Should I take krill oil?
“Until results are replicated by multiple groups across multiple species and ultimately tested in the human population, these or similar compounds should not be treated as medical knowledge. These fundamental scientific findings inform future medical applications, and modification of personal diets should only take place after consulting doctors.
— Dr. Ali Mohebi
Asked about the limitations of the study, Dr. Jordan Taylor, chief of the neurology section at the University of Michigan Health-West, who was not involved in the study, said DTM:
“Although the results are interesting, the study was performed with transgenic strains of C. elegans specifically bred to produce elevated alpha-synuclein as a model of Parkinson’s disease. Although this is generally a good model for studying the degenerative effects of alpha-synuclein, the results may not practically translate to humans.
Dr Subbaiah added that the main reason marine oils, including fish oil and algal oil, do not significantly improve brain function is that they cannot cross the barrier. blood-brain.
“The main reason why fish oil, algal oil, ethyl esters and other currently available supplements do not significantly improve brain function is because of the blood-brain barrier, which requires omega-3s in the form of phospholipids for transport into the brain.”
— Dr. McCarthy. Papasani Subbayah
“It is important to note that even krill oil does not work well in whole animals because the omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil are present in diacyl phospholipids, whereas the blood barrier transporter -brain requires monoacyl (lyso) phospholipids,” said Dr. Subbaiah.
He added, however, that lysophospholipids can be generated by treating krill oil with a lipase. an enzyme that “digests” fats.
“It is important not only to repeat these studies with animal models, but also to use other forms of omega-3 fatty acids as controls to show that the effects are specific to krill oil,” a- he concluded.
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