Category: Questions 2000-2006
STUDY: Alpha-lipoic acid as a new treatment option for Azheimer type dementia.
JOURNAL: Arch Gerontol Geriatr 2001 Jun;32(3):275-282
AUTHORS: Hager K, Marahrens A, Kenklies M, Riederer P, Munch G.
ABSTRACT: Oxidative stress and energy depletion are characteristic biochemical hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD), thus antioxidants with positive effects on glucose metabolism such as thioctic (alpha-lipoic) acid should exert positive effects in these patients. Therefore, 600 mg alpha-lipoic acid was given daily to nine patients with AD and related dementias (receiving a standard treatment with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors) in an open study over an observation period of, on avarage, 337+/-80 days. The treatment led to a stabilization of cognitive functions in the study group, demonstrated by constant scores in two neuropsychological tests (mini-mental state examination: MMSE and AD assessment scale, cognitive subscale: ADAScog). Despite the fact that this study was small and not randomized, this is the first indication that treatment with alpha-lipoic acid might be a successful 'neuroprotective' therapy option for AD and related dementias.
COMMENTARY: Although this study is small, the safety of lipoic acid supplements, readily available at most health food stores, argues that the therapy may well be worth trying in Alzheimers, at least for a month or two.
Alpha lipoic acid also has shown some effectiveness as a treatment for 'insulin resistance syndrome.' Insulin is the hormone responsible for getting energy, in the form of glucose, or blood sugar, into our cells. A person who is insulin-resistant has cells that respond sluggishly to the action of insulin. Following a meal, this person will have elevated glucose circulating in the blood, signaling yet more insulin to be released from the pancreas until the glucose is taken up by the cells. Experts suggest that 10 to 25 percent of the adult population may be resistant to insulin to some degree. Lipoic acid has been shown to be useful for insulin resistance, although in this scenario the results with oral supplementation were nowhere near as impressive as intravenous. (1)
1.Evans JL, Goldfine ID. Alpha-lipoic acid: a multifunctional antioxidant that improves insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2000 Autumn;2(3):401-13.