London: Early studies in mice have revealed that a diet high in cholesterol may help people with a fatal genetic disease, which damages the brain.Patients suffering from Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease struggle to produce a fatty sheath around their nerves, which is essential for function.The study showed that a high-cholesterol diet could increase production.The authors said the mice “improved dramatically”.Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD) is one of the many leukodystrophies in which patients struggle to produce the myelin sheath. It protects nerve fibres and helps messages pass along the nerves.Without the sheath, messages do not travel down the nerve, resulting in a series of problems including movement and cognition.Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine, in Germany, performed a trial on mice with the disease and fed them a high cholesterol diet.The first tests were on mice when they were six weeks old, after signs of PMD had already emerged.Those mice that were fed a normal diet continued to get worse, while those fed a cholesterol-enriched diet stabilised.“This six-week-long cholesterol treatment delayed the decline in motor co-ordination,” the BBC quoted the scientists as saying.
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