A ray of hope: Study reveals Alzheimer’s may be caused by misfiring immune system

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Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s

By NewsGram Staff Writer

What could be more frightening than forgetting your own identity?

Finally, a new study suggests that deprivation of an amino acid called arginine may contribute to Alzheimer’s, achronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. It is expected that the finding could throw some light in creating new treatment strategies for patients suffering from the incapacitating illness.

A group of scientists at Duke University disclosed that their studies of Alzheimer’s in mice had shown a new process that they believe contributes to the disease’s development.

The team focused on the immune system of the rat found that cells designed to protect the brain from infection will uncharacteristically consume arginine during the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

The finding suggested that jamming this process with a drug helps in preventing the formation of ‘plaques’ in the brain that are the characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease.

However, there is no assurance that a method tested on animals can work the same way on humans, still the study presents a new ray of hope for the patients of Alzheimer’s. It is so because, until now, the exact role of the immune system and arginine in Alzheimer’s was completely unidentified.

Now, researchers’ next plan is to test older mice suffering from an advanced form of Alzheimer’s.

As per the 2015 statistics of Alzheimer’s Disease International, there are nearly 44 million people worldwide who are suffering from Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.

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“Taking Low-Dose Aspirin May Not Reduce Risk of Dementia”, Says Study

Researchers found no difference between those who took aspirin and those who took placebo in the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or probable Alzheimer's disease

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Aspirin
Aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties and also thins the blood. Pixabay

 Taking a low-dose aspirin once a day does not reduce the risk of thinking and memory problems caused by mild cognitive impairment or probable Alzheimer’s disease, nor does it slow the rate of cognitive decline, say researchers.

Aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties and also thins the blood. For years, doctors have been prescribing low-dose aspirin for some people to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke. However, there are also possible risks to taking aspirin, including bleeding in the brain, so guidance from a doctor is important.

Because aspirin can be beneficial to the heart, researchers have hypothesised, and smaller previous studies have suggested, that it may also be beneficial to the brain, possibly reducing the risk of dementia by reducing inflammation, minimizing small clots or by preventing the narrowing of blood vessels within the brain.

“Our large study found that a daily low-dose aspirin provided no benefit to study participants at either preventing dementia or slowing cognitive decline,” said study lead author Joanne Ryan, from Monash University in Australia.

For the findings, the study, published in the journal Neurology, involved 19,114 people who did not have dementia or heart disease. A majority of participants were age 70 or older. They took thinking and memory tests at the start of the study as well as during follow-up visits.

Aspirin
Taking a low-dose aspirin once a day does not reduce the risk of thinking and memory problems caused by mild cognitive impairment or probable Alzheimer’s disease, nor does it slow the rate of cognitive decline, say researchers. Pixabay

Half of the people were given daily 100-milligram low-dose aspirin while the other half were given a daily placebo. They were followed for an average of 4.7 years, with annual in-person examinations. According to the researchers, over the course of the study, 575 people developed dementia.

Researchers found no difference between those who took aspirin and those who took placebo in the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or probable Alzheimer’s disease. There was also no difference in the rate of cognitive change over time, they added.

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“While these results are disappointing, it is possible that the length of just under five years for our study was not long enough to show possible benefits from aspirin, so we will continue to examine its potential longer-term effects by following up with study participants in the coming years,” said Ryan. (IANS)

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Inflammation in Brain Can Lead to Dementia: Study

Inflammation in the brain linked to several forms of dementia

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dementia
Inflammation in the brain may be more widely implicated in dementias than was previously thought. Pixabay

Researchers have revealed that inflammation in the brain may be more widely implicated in dementias than was previously thought. This is a health news.

Inflammation in the brain – known as neuroinflammation – has been recognised and linked to many disorders including depression, psychosis and multiple sclerosis. It has also recently been linked to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

For the study, published in the journal Brain, the researchers set out to examine whether neuroinflammation also occurs in other forms of dementia, which would imply that it is common to many neurodegenerative diseases.

The team recruited 31 patients with three different types of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). FTD is a family of different conditions resulting from the build-up of several abnormal ‘junk’ proteins in the brain. “We predicted the link between inflammation in the brain and the build-up of damaging proteins, but even we were surprised by how tightly these two problems mapped on to each other,” said study researcher Thomas Cope from University of Cambridge in the UK.

dementia
For the study, published in the journal Brain, the researchers set out to examine whether neuroinflammation also occurs in other forms of dementia, which would imply that it is common to many neurodegenerative diseases. Pixabay

According to the researchers, patients underwent brain scans to detect inflammation and the junk proteins. Two Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans each used an injection with a chemical ‘dye’, which lights up special molecules that reveal either the brain’s inflammatory cells or the junk proteins.

In the first scan, the dye lit up the cells causing neuroinflammation. These indicate ongoing damage to the brain cells and their connections. In the second scan, the dye binds to the different types of ‘junk’ proteins found in FTD.

The researchers showed that across the brain, and in all three types of FTD, the more inflammation in each part of the brain, the more harmful build-up of the junk proteins there is. To prove the dyes were picking up the inflammation and harmful proteins, they went on to analyse under the microscope 12 brains donated after death to the Cambridge Brain Bank.

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“There may be a vicious circle where cell damage triggers inflammation, which in turn leads to further cell damage,” sad study researcher Richard Bevan Jones.

The research team stressed that further research is needed to translate this knowledge of inflammation in dementia into testable treatments. (IANS)

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Here’s Why Losing Sleep For Only One Night May Cause Alzheimer’s Disease

Previous studies of older adults have suggested that sleep deprivation can increase the level of tau in the cerebral spinal fluid

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Even in young, healthy individuals, missing one night of sleep increases the level of tau in blood suggesting that over time, such sleep deprivation could possibly have detrimental effects. Pixabay

 Losing just one night of sleep fuels brain proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, a new research warns.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that when young, healthy men were deprived of just one night of sleep, they had higher levels of tau, a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease, in their blood than when they had a full, uninterrupted night of rest.

Tau is a protein found in neurons that can form into tangles. These accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It can start to develop in the brain decades before symptoms of the disease appear. Previous studies of older adults have suggested that sleep deprivation can increase the level of tau in the cerebral spinal fluid.

“Our exploratory study shows that even in young, healthy individuals, missing one night of sleep increases the level of tau in blood suggesting that over time, such sleep deprivation could possibly have detrimental effects,” said study author Jonathan Cedernaes, from Uppsala University in Sweden. The study involved 15 healthy, normal-weight men with an average age of 22. They all reported regularly getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night.

There were two phases to the study. For each phase, the men were observed under a strict meal and activity schedule in a sleep clinic for two days and nights. Blood samples were taken in the evening and again in the morning. For one phase, participants were allowed to get a good night of sleep both nights.

For the other phase, participants were allowed to get a good night of sleep the first night followed by a second night of sleep deprivation. During sleep deprivation, lights were kept on while participants sat up in bed playing games, watching movies or talking.

Researchers found that the men had an average 17 per cent increase in tau levels in their blood after a night of sleep deprivation compared to an average two per cent increase in tau levels after a good night of sleep.

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Losing just one night of sleep fuels brain proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, a new research warns. Pixabay

Researchers also looked at four other biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s but there were no changes in levels between a good night of sleep and one night of no sleep. “It’s important to note that while higher levels of tau in the brain are not good, in the context of sleep loss we do not know what higher levels of tau in blood represent,” said Cedernaes.

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According to the researchers, when neurons are active, production of tau in the brain is increased. Higher levels in the blood may reflect that these tau proteins are being cleared from the brain or they may reflect elevated tau levels in the brain. (IANS)