Fall River Jewish Home

Exploring the Link between Copper and Alzheimer’s Disease

A few years ago people who had a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease were hearing about the idea that aluminum was the cause. Even aluminum in pots and pans became a source of concern for many before it was proven to be inaccurate. Late this summer, the talk turned to copper and the role it might play in developing Alzheimer’s disease.

In the August 19 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Rashid Deane shared his belief that ingesting trace amounts of copper in the foods we eat may contribute to a build-up of the plaques commonly thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Abnormal clusters of protein build ups, called amyloid betas, create these plaques.

In their study, researchers gave mice trace amounts of copper in their drinking water over a three month period. It amounted to 1/10 of what the EPA allows in human’s drinking water. They believe it is a reasonable equivalent of what people might consume in their diet. What they found at the end of this time period was that one of the key “traffic” proteins (LRP1) was disrupted. That prevented it from removing the undesirable amyloid beta proteins from the brain.

The second part of the study, what they consider the second of a one-two evidence punch, involved giving copper to mice bred to have Alzheimer’s disease. The study seemed to show that copper stimulated production of the amyloid beta proteins ultimately creating more plaques.

Dr. Deane acknowledges in his article that copper is required by our bodies to maintain many of its function. So finding the right balance will be their next challenge.

As is the case with many research studies, there are those that disagree. Christopher Exley, professor in Bioinorganic Chemistry at Keele University in Staffordshire in the U.K. is one of the naysayers. He believes just the opposite –that copper actually helps to prevent amyloid beta proteins from accumulating.

Content on this page is provided by a third party who may inadvertently publish inaccurate or incomplete information. Please contact us with any questions regarding the contact on this page.