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High Cholesterol Actually Helps Repair Damaged Brains

There is a defect in the growth of the myelin sheath, the fatty covering of nerve fibers in the central nervous system in those suffering from Pelizaeus-Merzbacher (PMD). Myelin protects nerve fibers and helps messages pass along the nerves; its absence therefore, would lead to a wide range of problems in functions such as movement and cognition.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine, in Germany found that adopting a cholesterol-rich diet could increase the production of myelin in these individuals.

According to the paper published in Nature Medicine, feeding mice with a cholesterol-enriched diet would stabilize the symptoms in the affected mice, while the worsening of the symptoms was noted in those on a normal diet.

"Dietary cholesterol does not cure PMD, but has a striking potential to relieve defects,” researchers explained.

As cholesterol is known to clean up a "traffic jam" inside the cells in the brain, scientists believe extra cholesterol would help clear the protein linked to myelin problems in PMD patients.

The results of this study are based on a research on mice and thus further studies in humans are needed to confirm the findings, scientists emphasized.

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