The human brain is extremely complex. Although responsible for many of our body’s capabilities, it has been known to cause extreme downfalls and disabilities if it goes awry. Neurodegenerative disorders include mild cognitive decline & late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD). By using genetic testing, we are able to assess these genes and gain biochemical insight as to how to take our patients in a direction that is best for intervention and treatment strategies. The genetic test we use is DNA Mind from DNA Life. A sample of this report can be seen below:
As noted above, the brain has many different genes pathways that are involved in specific behaviors. In Neurodegenerative disorders, we see lipid metabolism, inflammation, dopaminergic, and neurotrophic pathways all play a role. Specifically for Neurodegenerative disorders, the focus is on the specific genes below.
APOE is a protein in the lipid metabolism pathway. This gene is associated with the late onset of Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD). APOE supports the transports of lipids in the brain. For this specific SNP, there are two variations. ApoE2 and ApoE4. These influence the proteins structure and abilities to bind to lipids. The homozygote E2/E2 and heterozygote E2/E3 both have a beneficial impact. The wild type E3/E3 has no impact. The heterozygote E3/E4 and homozygote E4/E4 both have a high impact and the heterozygote E2/E4 has a moderate impact.
Individuals who have an E4 allele have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Those who have the E2 allele have protective effects against Alzheimer’s. For those who are at risk, it is key that we reduce total and saturated fat intake but ensure they are taking quality DHA and omega 3 fatty acids. The reason being that antioxidants tend to lower in those specific genotypes. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene DataBase.
CRP is a proinflammatory marker. This binds to foreign and damaged cells and increases the number of macrophages in the body. When it comes to regulation and protection, higher levels of CRP have been found in those who suffer from a psychiatric disorder like depression or dementia. The GG homozygote has a moderate impact, the GA heterozygote has a low impact, and the AA wildtype has no impact.
We can see here that the G allele is the risk factor. It has been linked to chronic low-grade inflammation and depressive disorder, along with cognitive decline. For individuals who have the G allele, we want to adjust their lifestyle to ensure they are taking anti-inflammatory measures. This means that we want to decrease their inflammation as much as possible by having them take omega 3 fatty acids, controlling their weight, and having steady blood glucose levels. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene DataBase.
This is one of the first genes that becomes activated when an issue with a tissue arrises in the body. Il-1 is implicated as an important leverage point in the inflammatory cascade. We see specific genetic variations in IL-1 that can lead to a higher inflammatory response. Therefore, if you are positive for IL-1, you are at an increased risk for developing chronic diseases. IL-1 positive has a moderate impact and IL-1 negative has no impact.
If you are IL-1 positive results have been correlated with increased plasma concentrations and alpha beta gingival fluid. Additionally, they are associated with pro-inflammatory diseases such as neurodegenerative disease and mood disorders like depression. For more information, please refer to Gene Cards, The Human Gene DataBase.
This incode for Interleukin 6 which is also a pro-inflammatory cytokine. This is an extremely important factor as it is responsible for the expression of CRP. We have seen that individuals with psychiatric disorders like depression and dementia have higher levels of IL-6 and CRP. Specifically, the C allele leads to increased expression and individuals with a C allele are more likely to suffer from depression and cognitive decline.
The wildtype GG has no impact, the GC heterozygote has a moderate impact and the homozygote CC has a high impact. Patients who possess a C allele should monitor their weight, ensuring it does not get out of hand. Excess weight leads to added toxins released throughout the body. To better control weight, we recommended staying away from pro-inflammatory foods, refined carbohydrates, and transfats. Additionally, natural supplements such as curcumin, ginger, and sulforaphane may be beneficial to these individuals. For more information, please refer to Gene Cards, The Human Gene DataBase.
Similar to IL-6, TNF alpha is a proinflammatory cytokine that is involved in the regulation of inflammation. We have seen that individuals who have more TNF in their blood, have depressive order and neurodegenerative disorders. In fact, those who have the A allele have a 2-fold increase in transcription, leading to increased levels circulating throughout the body.
The wildtype GG has no impact. The heterozygote GA has a moderate impact, and the AA homozygote has a high impact. For patients who have the risk A allele, we need to make sure they focus on reducing psychosocial stress and eat an anti-inflammatory diet. We also encourage the uptake of phytonutrient-rich foods and omega 3 fatty acids. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene DataBase.
BDNF stands for Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. This is part of the nerve growth factor family of proteins in the body. Its main purpose is to promote brain development, including neuronal cell survival, differentiation, migration, synaptogenesis, and plasticity. This gene is also hypothesized to participate in the regulation of stress in relation to neurodegenerative and mood disordered. Additionally, individuals who have altered levels are more susceptible to addictive behaviors. The wildtype CC shows no impact, the CT heterozygote shows a moderate impact, and the TT homozygote shows a high impact.
With these genotypes, we see the risk allele is T. When the T allele is present, there is a 25% reduction in activity-dependent secretion in the central nervous system. This is responsible for individuals having cognitive decline, anxiety, and addictive behaviors. In order to best help those who have the T allele, we recommend participating in regular aerobic exercise. Exercise has been proven to improve mood and reduce the risk of neurodegeneration. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene DataBase.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for modulating feelings of reward and pleasure. If there are alterations in dopamine, we see various psychiatric disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, cognitive impairment, mood and anxiety disorders, and addictive behavior leading to risk-seeking behavior and substance abuse. COMT catalyzes the transfer of methyl groups. This is important when it comes to the metabolism of endogenous substances. The wild type, GG shows a high function impact. The heterozygote GA shows the moderate function and the homozygous AA shows low function.
Individuals with the GG genotype (wild type) are at a risk for developing cognitive deficits and cognitive decline. This is related to the increased enzymatic activity leading the dopamine to be broken down faster. GG genotypes also have a higher susceptibility to chase reward-seeking behaviors. It is best to encourage those with a GG genotype to engage in social activity and learning new hobbies to keep the cognitive decline to a minimum.
If you have the AA genotype (homozygotes) you have lower enzymatic activity. This leads to a decreased breakdown of neurotransmitters and increases your susceptibility to anxiety disorders. Additionally, the AA carriers are more likely to have bipolar disorder and depression. These individuals should avoid environmental stressors and should limit caffeine and alcohol while increasing their magnesium intake. For more information, please refer to Gene Cards, The Human Gene DataBase.
Neurodegenerative disorders are extremely common and highly linked to inflammation. Inflammation is a silent killer that impacts not only the brain, but the entire body. It is important that we avoid anti-inflammatory foods and environmental factors to give our genes the optimal nutrients for expression. Additionally, regular adjustments have been proven to help individuals who have neurodegenerative disorders. Adjustments help release the pressure on the joints and realign the skeletal system. By doing so, the nervous system is able to better communicate with itself and other areas of the body. The study, “Chiropractic Management of an 81-Year-Old man with Parkinson Disease Signs and Symptoms” explains how chiropractic care significantly improved his symptoms.
As noted, inflammation is an extremely common marker that has to do with neurodegenerative disorders. In order to best help the body and reduce inflammation, we do a food sensitivity test on our patients. The food sensitivity test we use is from Vibrant America. A sample report is shown below:
Neurodegenerative disorders impact so many families. These disorders are not easy for the individual nor their loved ones. Having the ability to see what you are predisposed to and taking protective actions against these specific disorders can put off a diagnosis or increase years spent without a disease. Having the chance to make nutritional and dietary adjustments now can go a long way! -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
Bova, J., & Sergent, A. (2014). Chiropractic management of an 81-year-old man with Parkinson disease signs and symptoms. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 13(2), 116–120. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2014.06.002
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