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The emerging science of BMAA: do cyanobacteria contribute to neurodegenerative disease?

Holtcamp W - Environ. Health Perspect. (2012)

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

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Cox arrived in Guam in the late 1990s after the trail had run cold, but through a series of discoveries, he resurrected the dormant hypothesis that BMAA was the cause behind ALS-PDC... She said, ‘We got it. ’” About the same time, Cox and Banack made another advance, discovering that BMAA was produced by cyanobacteria that lived as symbionts in specialized roots of the cycads... Cyanobacteria either form symbiotic relationships with other organisms or live alone in fresh and marine waters, where they can erupt in sprawling and often toxic blooms associated with high nutrient inputs such as fertilizer runoff... They also are found in desert crusts, where they spring to life with seasonal rains... Collaborating with Bradley, she replicated Cox’s brain study, finding BMAA in the brains of AD, PD, and ALS victims but not in controls... Once Cox realized that BMAA may be involved in multiple neurodegenerative diseases, he left Hawaii to establish the Institute for EthnoMedicine in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he was joined by Banack and later by James Metcalf, a cyanobacterial expert... The cause of the remaining 90% (termed “sporadic ALS”) remains unexplained... A foundational aspect of Cox’s hypothesis—and the part that has proven the most contentious—is that BMAA not only occurs as a free, water-soluble molecule but also gets bound into proteins... Species low on the food chain, including pink shrimp and blue crab—both of which are eaten by humans—had high BMAA levels, comparable to the bat skins from Guam (one crab had 6,976 µg/g)... Mash’s laboratory has also found BMAA in several shark species in unpublished research... Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center neurologist Elijah Stommel and colleagues used geographic information system (GIS) software to map ALS cases and lakes with a history of cyanobacterial blooms in New Hampshire... They found that people living within a half-mile of cyanobacterially contaminated lakes had a 2.32-times greater risk of developing ALS than the rest of the population; people around New Hampshire’s Lake Mascoma had up to a 25 times greater risk of ALS than the expected incidence... Although BMAA was found in water samples from other lakes, the researchers did not detect it in Lake Mascoma samples, perhaps, they suggest, because of the small amount of cyanobacteria collected on sampling filters.

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The seeds of the cycad are used as food and medicine by the indigenous Chamorro people of Guam. They are also eaten by bats and feral pigs that are consumed by the Chamorro. The resulting heavy dietary intake of BMAA has been linked with a constellation of neurodegenerative symptoms known locally as lytico-bodig.All images: Paul A. Cox
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f3: The seeds of the cycad are used as food and medicine by the indigenous Chamorro people of Guam. They are also eaten by bats and feral pigs that are consumed by the Chamorro. The resulting heavy dietary intake of BMAA has been linked with a constellation of neurodegenerative symptoms known locally as lytico-bodig.All images: Paul A. Cox


The emerging science of BMAA: do cyanobacteria contribute to neurodegenerative disease?

Holtcamp W - Environ. Health Perspect. (2012)

The seeds of the cycad are used as food and medicine by the indigenous Chamorro people of Guam. They are also eaten by bats and feral pigs that are consumed by the Chamorro. The resulting heavy dietary intake of BMAA has been linked with a constellation of neurodegenerative symptoms known locally as lytico-bodig.All images: Paul A. Cox
© Copyright Policy - public-domain
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3295368&req=5

f3: The seeds of the cycad are used as food and medicine by the indigenous Chamorro people of Guam. They are also eaten by bats and feral pigs that are consumed by the Chamorro. The resulting heavy dietary intake of BMAA has been linked with a constellation of neurodegenerative symptoms known locally as lytico-bodig.All images: Paul A. Cox

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED EXCERPT
Please rate it.

Cox arrived in Guam in the late 1990s after the trail had run cold, but through a series of discoveries, he resurrected the dormant hypothesis that BMAA was the cause behind ALS-PDC... She said, ‘We got it. ’” About the same time, Cox and Banack made another advance, discovering that BMAA was produced by cyanobacteria that lived as symbionts in specialized roots of the cycads... Cyanobacteria either form symbiotic relationships with other organisms or live alone in fresh and marine waters, where they can erupt in sprawling and often toxic blooms associated with high nutrient inputs such as fertilizer runoff... They also are found in desert crusts, where they spring to life with seasonal rains... Collaborating with Bradley, she replicated Cox’s brain study, finding BMAA in the brains of AD, PD, and ALS victims but not in controls... Once Cox realized that BMAA may be involved in multiple neurodegenerative diseases, he left Hawaii to establish the Institute for EthnoMedicine in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he was joined by Banack and later by James Metcalf, a cyanobacterial expert... The cause of the remaining 90% (termed “sporadic ALS”) remains unexplained... A foundational aspect of Cox’s hypothesis—and the part that has proven the most contentious—is that BMAA not only occurs as a free, water-soluble molecule but also gets bound into proteins... Species low on the food chain, including pink shrimp and blue crab—both of which are eaten by humans—had high BMAA levels, comparable to the bat skins from Guam (one crab had 6,976 µg/g)... Mash’s laboratory has also found BMAA in several shark species in unpublished research... Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center neurologist Elijah Stommel and colleagues used geographic information system (GIS) software to map ALS cases and lakes with a history of cyanobacterial blooms in New Hampshire... They found that people living within a half-mile of cyanobacterially contaminated lakes had a 2.32-times greater risk of developing ALS than the rest of the population; people around New Hampshire’s Lake Mascoma had up to a 25 times greater risk of ALS than the expected incidence... Although BMAA was found in water samples from other lakes, the researchers did not detect it in Lake Mascoma samples, perhaps, they suggest, because of the small amount of cyanobacteria collected on sampling filters.

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