A unique feature in many diseases marked by declining brain function, such as Alzheimer’s, is the development over time of what is sometimes colloquially called “brain clumps” which are really tangles of proteins that physically get in the way of nerve communication. Called tauopathy, this term refers to neurodegenerative disease marked by tangles of structural proteins (tau protein) that impair nerve cell function in the brain. New research suggests biotin deficiency may be a contributing factor.
When the nerves in our brains can’t talk to each other, it’s a problem. We may start to cognitively decline, lacking the ability to think clearly. As with most degenerative disease, the process can be complicated and cumulative, meaning it gets progressively worse over time making it harder to determine the initial underlying cause. But for tauopathies – diseases marked by brain protein tangles that muck everything up, physiologically speaking – mitochondrial dysfunction is often implicated.
Mitochondria, the proverbial powerhouse of our cells, exist in a variety of cell types including nerve and brain cells. Their job is to create energy, which is a pretty important job since it serves as the foundation of how everything else in the cell is powered. Without cellular energy, the cell cannot repair, function or communicate. So when the mitochondria don’t work, the cell has no power and thus, the cell doesn’t function very well. We call this mitochondrial dysfunction. It’s really just a tired cell with no energy.
What leads to mitochondrial dysfunction? One huge factor is nutrient deficiency. The mitochondria need nutrients to create energy. One of these nutrients, on which this paper focuses, is biotin.
Also known as vitamin B7, biotin is an essential cofactor to at least four key enzymes found in the mitochondria.
These enzymes are called carboxylase enzymes, but the key point this research drives home is that “biotin depletion alone causes mitochondrial pathology and neurodegeneration.”
Biotin levels, particularly in its role in these important carboxylase enzymes, are reduced in mammals that have tauopathy diseases. Alzheimer’s is the most well-known tauopathy disease, and biotin levels are lower in human brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The authors suggest that biotin repletion may be a potential therapy in some tauopathy-based diseases.
Common symptoms for biotin deficiency are brittle nails, thin hair or dermatitis due to its role in fatty acid synthesis, but these are by far not the only symptoms. Many manifestations of biotin deficiency are much more subtle like impaired ability to metabolize carbohydrates, or the most commonly presenting symptom in family practice – fatigue. In fact, biotin status even impacts how our genes are expressed since there are over 2,000 known biotin-dependent genes.
SpectraCell’s Micronutrient Test measures biotin deficiency, along with 34 other nutrients, at the cellular level. It is a state-of-the-art blood test that tells you the nutrients in which you are deficient, regardless of symptoms or cause, so you can correct it and achieve true cellular — and by extension, whole-body — health.
(Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, December 2020)
LINK to ABSTRACT Biotin rescues mitochondrial dysfunction and neurotoxicity in a tauopathy model.