Actions of Plasmalogens

A research team chaired by Takehiko Fujino, Emeritus Professor of Kyushu University in Japan has ascertained that plasmalogens are the key to the improvement of dementia.

Neurogenesis (birth of nerve cells) in brain

The research team achieved unprecedented discovery of the action of neurogenesis by plasmalogens. Administration of plasmalogens to mice with brain inflammation has provided evidence leading to the findings of plasmalogen inducing the production of new nerve cells in the hippocampus of the brain (an area which governs memory). The research proposed that neurogenesis would be the new treatment for dementia, making and it unnecessary to improve cells damaged by amyloid β proteins.

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Anti-inflammatory and anti-amyloidogenic:

Plasmalogens were suggested to have anti-inflammatory and anti-amyloidogenic effects, this indicates a probable therapeutic application of plasmalogens against Alzheimer’s disease. Neuroinflammation involves an activation of glial cells as the cause / effect of Alzheimer’s disease. Intraperitoneal injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) caused an increase in the number of microglia displaying neuroinflammation in the hippocampus of adult mouse. These LPS-activated glial cells were significantly attenuated by the treatment of plasmalogens. Moreover, LPS-activated accumulation of amyloid β proteins in the neurons of hippocampus was also eradicated by the plasmalogen treatment (Katafuchi T et al., 2012).

LPS activated microglia and simultaneous application of plasmalogenssuppressed these microglia in the hippocampus of mouse. (A) LPS treatment increased the number of microglia which were shown in green (b) and these microglia were suppressed by simultaneous application of plasmalogens (c). The control group was given saline as shown in (a). Scale bar, 100 µm. (B) Graphical representation of LPS activated increase in the number of microglia and plasmalogens suppressed these microglia.

actions of plasmalogens - suppress microglia in the hippocampus of mouse

LPS-activated accumulation of the amyloid β proteins while simultaneous application of plasmalogens suppressed these proteins in the hippocampus of mouse. Neurons were stained with NeuN which is shown in red (a – c). Control group treated with saline showed a slight fluorescent of amyloid β immunoreactivity (green) (d). LPS treatment increased the accumulation of amyloid β proteins (e) and these proteins were completely eradicated by plasmalogen treatment (f). Amyloid β and NeuN fluorescences were merged to show an intracellular location of amyloid β in the neurons (g and h) (Katafuchi et al., 2012).

actions of plasmalogens - suppress amyloid β proteins in the hippocampus of mouse

Anti-apoptotic action (protection against cell death) in brain

Neuronal cells are susceptible to stress and this can lead to cell apoptosis and neurodegenerative disorders.

Plasmalogens were found to effectively inhibit neuronal cell death in mouse induced by nutrient deprivation, suggesting anti-apoptotic action of plasmalogens in brain. Thus, this leads to the hypothesis that decreased plasmalogen levels in the brain of Alzheimer’s sufferer could be one of the factors for neuronal loss and future therapeutics preventing neuronal cell death could potentially cure Alzheimer’s disease (Hossain MS et al., 2013).

Plasmalogens inhibit hippocampal neuronal cell death in mouse. Number of survived neuronal cells decreased to about 50% when cultured in nutrient-deprived medium. (A) These nutrient-deprived neuronal cells were then treated with plasmlogens (from chicken skin) at 5 µg/ml for 72 hours. Survival rate significantly increased in these neurons cells treated with plasmalogens compared with nutrient-deprived control neuronal cells. These neuronal cells were stained with Dil (red colour). Scale bar, 50 μm. (B) The bars show the number of primary hippocampal neuronal cells in the specific area of 12 randomly selected locations from each cell culture dish. The data represents average ± SD from four independent experiments with significant differences between control and plasmalogen-treated groups (Bonferroni’s test, P < 0.001) (Hossain MS et al., 2013).

Improvement in learning and memory function

Plasmalogens improve learning and memory function. In the Morris water maze experiment, plasmalogens were given to healthy mice for 6 weeks and the time taken for each to reach a transparent stage hidden 1 cm below the surface of water in a pool was measured. This was the world’s first animal testing conducted to demonstrate the scientific correlation between plasmalogen and dementia. Memory of the mice given plasmalogens improved dramatically compared with the mice from the control group. Mice administered plasmalogens were able to reach the transparent stage in 10.43 seconds, while mice without any administration of plasmalogens took 30.10 seconds to complete the task. This result demonstrated the enhancing effect on learning and memory functions with the intake of plasmalogens.

Nootropic brain support

The Morris water maze experiment (above) showed that plasmalogens improve learning and memory functions of healthy mice. This suggests that plasmalogens could boost brain power in healthy individuals, including memory, learning, focus, mood, concentration, executive functions, motivation and attention. Plasmalogens are major glycerophospholipids in brain tissue, and they play a disproportionately large role in maintaining optimal brain function. Plasmalogen levels in the brain increase up to around 30-40 years of age and then dramatically decrease by about 70 years of age. Since plasmalogen levels fall during normal aging, restoration of plasmalogens is essential to prevent their deficiency. Plasmalogen restoration could help improve memory and learning ability, as well as fighting stress, anxiety and fatigue. In a nutshell, plasmalogens are beneficial to dementia patients, as well as healthy individuals.

Lung health support

Besides brain, plasmalogens are also present in high concentrations in the heart, lungs and kidneys, and are important for overall wellness. A recent research found that plasmalogens could serve as a potential pharmacologic target for enhancement of lung function in individuals with asthma. Plasmalogens levels are reduced following exposures to factors known to aggravate asthma and plasmalogen deficiency has also been linked to bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in infants and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in adults. Given the potential of plasmalogens to change the structural properties of lung surfactants, plasmalogens are biologically possible mediators of lung function responses (Front Med (Lausanne). 7: 38 (2020)).