High-salt Diet can Cause Dementia by Promoting Accumulation of Tau Plaques, Mouse Study Says

High-salt Diet can Cause Dementia by Promoting Accumulation of Tau Plaques, Mouse Study Says
A diet that is high in salt can cause dementia in mice by promoting a buildup of plaques of the protein tau, which is also associated with Alzheimer's disease, a new study shows. The study, titled "Dietary salt promotes cognitive impairment through tau phosphorylation," was published in Nature. This report builds on a previous study, published last year and authored by many of the same researchers, which demonstrated that a high-salt diet could lead to dementia in mice (or, at least, it led to mouse behaviors indicative of dementia, such as memory impairment). In these experiments, a "high-salt diet" means a diet that is 4%–8% salt, which is 8–16 times higher than what is in standard mouse food. In the previous paper, the researchers noted that this level of salt in the diet is probably "comparable to the high end of the spectrum of human salt consumption," though they said that estimating typical salt consumption in humans is challenging. That study further determined that a high-salt diet induced a series of biological events, including the production of the pro-inflammatory molecule interleukin-17 by the small intestine, which led to decreased production of nitric oxide in the blood vessels around the brain. Nitric oxide is a vasodialator — it relaxes blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow through — so the researchers initially thought that the decrease in nitric oxide might decrease blood flow to the brain, basically starving the brain c
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