By the end of 2020, the majority of health practitioners in North America will know what a plasmalogen is. Decades of data show that low plasmalogen levels have severe health effects and that plasmalogen supplementation has positive health effects. November 2019 marks the first time a synthetic plasmalogen has been used in humans: six adults took a dose of our Prodrome-Neuro Plasmalogen Oil supplement and blood plasmalogen levels successfully increased by over 50% after 12 hours and were maintained for 24 hours in every person1.
What are Plasmalogens?
Plasmalogens are a special type of phospholipid. They are found in high concentrations in the brain and heart. Plasmalogens are not some trace nutrients, they actually build a big part of the brain, as much as 20% of the dry weight.
Plasmalogens act as a reservoir for important fatty acids including oleic acid, arachidonic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)2. Plasmalogens are anti-inflammatory, are powerful antioxidants, are a critical part of cell membranes, maintain optimal brain function, and are a major structural part of lipoproteins, myelin, and synaptic membranes3.
Plasmalogen levels in the brain increase up to 30 to 40 years of age and then significantly decrease by around 70 years of age4. There are no adequate food sources. The body makes plasmalogens in the peroxisomes of cells; the majority are made in the liver. The body’s ability to make plasmalogens becomes impaired as peroxisome function is compromised with age and plasmalogens are degraded from inflammation and oxidative stress.
Why are low levels of plasmalogens bad?
There is no question that plasmalogens are important for health. But what about having low levels of plasmalogens – just how bad can it be? I have made a lot of graphs in my career and only one graph has actually scared me: the relationship between blood plasmalogen levels and death (Figure 1).
Plasmalogens and Death.
Figure 1. Probability of dying in 5.3 years
Data from the Rush University Memory and Aging Project. Final dataset: 1262 participants, participants still living since last clinical visit = 896, participants deceased since last visit = 862. Average age at enrollment = 81. Low plasmalogens = 5th percentile +/- 95% CI. High plasmalogens = 95th percentile +/- 95% CI.
Data from the Rush University Memory and Aging Project showed that a 95 year old with high plasmalogen levels had the same chance of dying in five years as a 65 year old with low plasmalogen levels. A 95 year old with high levels had an almost 70 percent chance of living to their 100th birthday whereas a person the same age with low plasmalogen levels had a less than 20 percent chance of living to their 100th birthday5. These results were shocking.
Plasmalogens and neurodegeneration.
Plasmalogens are involved in several diseases. I have studied plasmalogens since 2006 when I first discovered and hypothesized about the role of plasmalogens in the cause of dementia6. Since then, research evidence has expanded to show that plasmalogens are part of the root cause of neurodegeneration that leads to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Most published data available is for plasmalogens and dementia. Plasmalogen deficiency is associated with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease3, 6, 7. The severity of dementia correlates with the severity of plasmalogen deficiency, irrespective of APOE allele status which is the second biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease after age3,7.
Why do we get low levels of plasmalogens?
The body makes a lot of plasmalogens and consumes a lot. Plasmalogen deficiency occurs when the body can no longer make as much as it consumes. This can happen due to increased oxidative stress which degrades plasmalogens8 or decreased biosynthesis caused by aging and chronic exposure to xenobiotics9.
Plasmalogens and the cause of diseases.
What happens when there are not enough plasmalogens in the body? Plasmalogens have both structural and functional roles in the brain. Plasmalogen deficiency leads to cell membrane changes in structure, geometry, and function as the body is forced to substitute other molecules such as phosphatidylethanolamines3 in place of plasmalogens. This leads to cellular signaling abnormalities and neurotransmission deficits as well as lowered antioxidant defenses10.
Inflammation can lead to a vicious cycle where oxidative stress degrades plasmalogens which further reduces the anti-inflammatory and antioxidative capacity of the tissues ultimately leading to clinical symptoms of disease11.
Alzheimer’s disease results from neurodegeneration of neurons responsible for cognition: cholinergic neurons. Cholinergic neurons are especially sensitive to decreased membrane fusion activity caused by plasmalogen deficiency because, unlike other neurons, membrane fusion is necessary for both neurotransmitter release and re-uptake. Reduced membrane fusion reduces neurotransmission which reduces cognition.
Parkinson’s disease results from neurodegeneration of neurons responsible for fine motor control: dopaminergic neurons. The direct cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, but some environmental neurotoxins selectively target dopaminergic neurons and cause Parkinson’s in animals. Plasmalogen deficiency increases susceptibility to neurotoxins.
Multiple sclerosis results from neurodegeneration of cells that insulate neurons: myelin or oligodendrocytes. Myelin has the highest concentration of plasmalogens in the whole body. When immune cells are activated to clean up a mess (inflammation), part of the myelin can be damaged and extra plasmalogens are needed to repair the cells before they die. If cells cannot be repaired before they die, the debris creates even more inflammation and degeneration. High levels of plasmalogens prevents demyelination by improving remyelination.
Plasmalogens to prevent disease.
Plasmalogens prevent neurodegeneration in animal models; the majority of the publications are for Parkinson’s disease. In a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease, an oral dose of plasmalogen at 50mg/kg was fully neuroprotective. Several publications demonstrate the neuroprotective12 and anti-inflammatory properties in mouse and monkey models of Parkinson’s disease13,14,15,16
Our natural, scientifically designed plasmalogen supplement.
Our Prodrome-Neuro Plasmalogen Oil supplement is a synthetic, natural plasmalogen precursor that survives the gut and is then converted to the target plasmalogen molecule independent of peroxisomal function.
I first designed and invented a series of plasmalogen drugs because at the time there was a patent protecting the use of natural plasmalogens for dementia which just expired last year. I have since designed and developed our natural plasmalogen supplement, Prodrome-Neuro, that has the same activity as my previously invented PPI-1011 plasmalogen drug.
We are taking pre-orders of Prodrome-Neuro Plasmalogen Oil as we complete regulatory requirements to offer Prodrome-Neuro for personal use; it is currently available for research use only. Several studies are ongoing to support dosing and demonstrate tissue levels and safety.
Enrollment begins in 2020 for a clinical trial funded by the Alzheimer’s Association to use Prodrome-Neuro Plasmalogen Oil in Alzheimer’s patients. Our goal is to expand the clinical trial to Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis patients.
While we continue to advance research on plasmalogens to answer important questions about the use in disease management, one thing is clear today: plasmalogens are an essential brain nutrient you do not want to be low on. Our scientifically designed, natural plasmalogen supplement ensures there is an adequate amount of plasmalogens in the blood supply for health.
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Start experimenting today! Our product is available for research use only and the more research supporting plasmalogens the better. Contact us for more information.
And most importantly, help us spread the word about plasmalogens so this dangerous deficiency is no longer off the radar of health professionals!
Dr. Goodenowe invented a technology platform in 1999 that has been used to analyze thousands of human samples from around the world. Through collaborations with international researchers and doctors, Dr. Goodenowe has become an expert on the biochemical basis of neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, autism, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Prodrome Sciences uses Dr. Goodenowe’s technology and discoveries to develop blood tests and dietary supplements for the early detection and prevention of disease.