A suggested model for the effect of PS on impaired axonal transport in FD

 

Most of us have never heard of phosphatidylserine—heck, I'm willing to bet most of us struggle to even pronounce the word. Simply put, it's a phospholipid that contains both amino acids and fatty acids. It's produced by your body to turn the EPA and DHA in omega-3 fatty acids into building blocks that make up the membranes that protect your body's cells.

 

 

Phosphatidylserine is produced in the body, but it's also obtained via the food you eat. Foods that contain high levels of phosphatidylserine include tuna, Atlantic herring, chicken legs, bovine brain, and soy lecithin. There are also phosphatidylserine supplements available for those who want to increase their levels of this vital phospholipid.

 

According to a new study out of Tel Aviv University, phosphatidylserine may be much more than just useful for healthy cells. In fact, it may even be able to cure a rare disease known as Family Dysautonomia (FD). FD is a neurodegenerative disorder that that affects the autonomic nervous system, causing symptoms like pain sensitivity, sweating, swallowing, and increases the risk of GI and pulmonary complications. Worse, it affects roughly 1 in every 31 Jewish people in the world.

 

The Israeli researchers discovered that phosphatidylserine helped to stabilize the microtubular highways in the body. These highways essentially provide the supplies needed to keep the neurons working. If the highways are disrupted (the result of neurodegenerative diseases), the result is symptoms like those of FD. By stabilizing the highways, it's possible to prevent the neurodegenerative diseases from impairing the function of the microtubules.

 

It turns out the combination of fatty and amino acids in phosphatidylserine can help to slow down the degeneration of the microtubules. This can actually slow the long-term memory loss associated with Alzheimer's, as well as encouraging healthy firing of the neurons. The phosphatidylserine can actually repair the neural activity, preventing an enzyme from degrading the neural highways (microtubules).

 

There is still a lot of research left to conduct. The study examined the effects of phosphatidylserine on mice, so the scientists need to find a way to deliver the phosphatidylserine directly to the nervous system. Dietary phosphatidylserine (via the foods mentioned above) isn't sufficient to combat the degenerative disease, so a more direct approach needs to be taken. However, the discovery of the effects of phosphatidylserine is one step closer to not only dealing with one neurodegenerative disorder but all of them.

 

Reference:

1. Shiran Naftelberg, Ziv Abramovitch, Shani Gluska, Sivan Yannai, Yuvraj Joshi, Maya Donyo, Keren Ben-Yaakov, Tal Gradus, Jonathan Zonszain, Chen Farhy, Ruth Ashery-Padan, Eran Perlson, Gil Ast, "Phosphatidylserine Ameliorates Neurodegenerative Symptoms and Enhances Axonal Transport in a Mouse Model of Familial Dysautonomia," PLOS Genetics, doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006486, published 20 December 2016.

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