Maintaining neuronal membrane integrity is crucial for cognition. As humans age, mutations occur throughout our cells' genetic material resulting in a myriad of problems. One such problem is metabolism, by which transporters in our intestinal epithelial cells can no longer efficiently transport vital nutrients into the bloodstream. Another issue, independent of age is dietary intake. An insufficient amount of a nutrient may negatively impact cognition due to the impact of the missing nutrient on cell integrity or neurotransmission. The last problem mentioned is the impact of chronically used pharmaceutical agents on cognition. A significant player in neuron death is excitotoxicity, which can result from too much excitatory signaling following the administration of a pharmaceutical agent. Pharmaceutical agents, especially ones where the dose is in the upper limit and usage is chronic, can alter gene expression in the neurons resulting in tolerance, toxicity, and baseline levels of a gene to be disrupted even after use ceases. The problems previously mentioned call for a solution that aids in restoring neurotransmission and maintaining neuron integrity.
Biology of Cell Membranes
There are several biology courses that focus on the fundamental components of the cell. Unfortunately, these lectures do a great disservice t demonstrating the importance of the cell membrane. As previously described, the cell membrane is involved in cell-to-cell recognition, cell signaling, enzymatic reactions, and separating the intracellular contents from the extracellular space. The cell membrane does not just desperate the spaces, it manipulates the environment and receives feedback from the molecules present. In relevance to brain health, the cell membrane of neurons is especially important because it is the hydrophobic nature of the membrane that allows neurotransmitters to be released into the synapse. These membranes are made of molecules called phosphatides, with the most abundant being phosphatidylcholine.