Your liver may be eating your brain…

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

I bet this human liver is thinking, “Hey brain, I hope you’re ready for the best fight you’ll ever remember!” If the brain loses, though, I doubt it’ll be able to remember!

In Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, he supports the idea that animals fight for limited resources in order to survive. I bet he would have never guessed there was a similar brawl occurring in the body! According to researchers from Rush University, the brain and liver have to battle it out for resources too.

Apparently, both organs need a protein known as PPARalpha to function properly. While the liver uses it to metabolize (basically burn) fat, PPARalpha is essential in helping the brain form memories.

The real problem comes with individuals who have some extra weight hanging over their belts. Their livers have to work overtime to burn those extra pounds, and it needs a bunch of PPARalpha to do so. Sometimes, the liver runs out of its own supply and has to steal some from the brain! As a result, our ol’ noodles don’t have enough juice left over to save all those precious memories.

In fact, the researchers are sure this is why obese individuals are more likely to suffer from the memory-loss condition called Alzheimer’s disease. However, there may be an answer. You see, when they injected PPARalpha-deficient mice with a healthy dose of the protein, the rodents showed significant memory improvements! “Further research must be conducted to see how we could potentially maintain normal PPARalpha in the [human] brain in order to be resistant to memory loss,” said Kalipada Pahan, the Rush University researcher who led the study.

In the meantime, I’m sure a little exercise can go a long way too. After all, physical activity has been shown to work just as well as medication.

Featured image courtesy of biologycorner on Flickr. Image of liver courtesy of Santiago Canyon College.