Thursday October 18, 2018

Study: Gout May Increase Dementia Risk in Elderly

Gout -- a very common condition -- is caused by deposits of crystals of a substance called uric acid (also known as urate) in the joints, which leads to inflammation

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The researchers believe that this type of low intensity sound therapy may benefit humans. (IANS)
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Elderly people suffering from gout may have 17-20 per cent higher risk of dementia, suggests a new study by a team that includes an Indian-origin researcher.

Gout — a very common condition — is caused by deposits of crystals of a substance called uric acid (also known as urate) in the joints, which leads to inflammation.

Periods of time when patients are experiencing gout symptoms are called flares. Flares can be unpredictable and debilitating, developing over a few hours and causing severe pain in the joints.

“Our study found a considerable increased risk of dementia associated with gout in the elderly,” said co-author Jasvinder Singh, a Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in the US.

For the study, presented at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR 2018), the researchers included 1.23 million Medicare beneficiaries, of which 65,325 had incident dementia.

Dementia Risk to 50-year-olds With Raised Blood Pressure
Dementia Risk to 50-year-olds raises with Blood Pressure . Pixabay

In an analysis which was adjusted for various potential confounding variables including demographics, comorbidities and commonly used medications, the results showed that gout is independently associated with a significantly higher risk of dementia.

The association was larger in older age groups, females, black race, and people with higher medical comorbidity.

Subgroup analyses indicated that gout was associated with a significant 20-57 per cent increase in dementia in patients without key comorbidities; coronary artery disease (CAD), hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes or hypertension.

Also Read: Study: Dementia Risk to 50-year-olds With Raised Blood Pressure

However, this was not the case in patients with each of these comorbidities, except in patients with CAD, the researchers said.

Guidelines for the treatment of gout recommend lowering uric acid levels, although maintaining too low levels is a concern because uric acid is thought to protect the brain, they added.

“Further study is needed to explore these relationships and understand the pathogenic pathways involved in this increased risk,” Singh noted. (IANS)

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Scientists Discover A New Method To Fight Alzheimer’s, Dementia

Worldwide, about seven percent of people over 65 suffer from Alzheimer's or some form of dementia, a percentage that rises to 40 percent above the age of 85.

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Alzheimer's
One hemisphere of a healthy brain (L) is pictured next to one hemisphere of a brain of a person suffering from Alzheimer disease. VOA
Eliminating dead-but-toxic cells occurring naturally in the brains of mice designed to mimic Alzheimer’s slowed neuron damage and memory loss associated with the disease, according to a study published Wednesday that could open a new front in the fight against dementia.The accumulation in the body of “zombie cells” that can no longer divide but still cause harm to other healthy cells, a process called senescence, is common to all mammals.

Scientists have long known that these dead-beat cells gather in regions of the brain linked to old age diseases ranging from osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis to Parkinson’s and dementia.

Prior research had also shown that the elimination of senescent cells in ageing mice extended their healthy lifespan.

But the new results, published in Nature, are the first to demonstrate a cause-and-effect link with a specific disease, Alzheimer’s, the scientists said.

Alzheimer's
A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

But any treatments that might emerge from the research are many years down the road, they cautioned.

In experiments, a team led by Tyler Bussian of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota used mice genetically modified to produce the destructive, cobweb-like tangles of tau protein that form in the neurons of Alzheimer’s patients.

The mice were also programmed to allow for the elimination of “zombie” cells in the same region.

“When senescent cells were removed, we found that the diseased animals retained the ability to form memories, and eliminated signs of inflammation,” said senior author Darren Baker, also from the Mayo Clinic.

The mice likewise failed to develop Alzheimer’s signature protein “tangles”, and retained normal brain mass.

 

Alzheimer's
Alzheimer’s disease patient Isidora Tomaz, 82, sits in an armchair in her house in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s predicted that by 2050, 135 million Americans are going to suffer from mild cognitive impairment, a precursor of Alzheimer’s. VOA

Keeping zombies at bay

A closer look revealed that the “zombies” belonged to a class of cells in the brain and spinal cord, called glia, that provide crucial support and insulation to neurons.

“Preventing the build-up of senescent glia can block the cognitive decline and neuro-degeneration normally experienced by these mice,” Jay Penney and Li-Huei Tsai, both from MIT, wrote in a comment, also in Nature.

Bussian and his team duplicated the results with pharmaceuticals, suggesting that drugs could one day slow or block the emergence of Alzheimer’s by keeping these zombie cells at bay.

“There hasn’t been a new dementia drug in 15 years, so it’s exciting to see the results of this promising study in mice,” said James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimer’s Society in London.

 

Alzheimer's
The accumulation in the body of “zombie cells” that can no longer divide but still cause harm to other healthy cells, a process called senescence, is common to all mammals. IANS

For Lawrence Rajendran, deputy director of the Dementia Research Institute at King’s College London, the findings “open up new vistas for both diagnosis and therapy for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.”

Up to now, dementia research has been mostly focused on the diseased neurons rather than their neighboring cells.

“It is increasingly becoming clear that other brains cells play a defining role,” Rajendran added.

Several barriers remain before the breakthrough can be translated into a “safe, effective treatment in people,” Pickett and other said.

The elderly often have lots of harmless brain cells that look like the dangerous senescent cells a drug would target, so the molecule would have to be good at telling the two apart.

Also Read: Common Painkillers Triple Harmful Side Effects in Dementia

Worldwide, about seven percent of people over 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia, a percentage that rises to 40 percent above the age of 85.

The number afflicted is expected to triple by 2050 to 152 million, according to the World Health Organization, posing a huge challenge to healthcare systems. (VOA)