Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by the accumulation of Amyloid beta proteins in the brain, causing neurons to die. New studies focus on how this protein may actually be beneficial for the organism in regular concentrations and how to improve the health of AD patients by modulating inflammation.
Amyloid beta comes from a specific way of processing APP. APP, is commonly expressed even in healthy brains. It’s role from past studies didn’t appear to be critical to survival. Some have even eliminated the gene completely and showed improved cognitive function in AD models. But in terms of overall health, i guess this wouldn’t have been the same.
Recent studies have shown that Amyloid beta is actually part of an essential mechanism that protects the brain against infections. Most interestingly, the mechanism of this protein, the way it works is very unique, being part of the inflammatory processes in the brain. It created a defence mechanism for any infection without any specific specialization. The stickiness of the Amyloid beta particles, trapped pathogens, to protect the brain from infection. Mice without Amyloid beta were more vulnerable to infections.
Other studies show that the problem is with the blood vessels in the brain. As we get older it is very common for our vessels to be in a worse condition relative to our younger states. High pressure and poor diet contribute to that, but sometimes it is just the reduced ability of our stem cells to fix issues due to telomere shortening. In the brain the deterioration of the walls of blood vessels that transfer blood and take away accumulated proteins makes Amyloid beta unable to leave the brain. Thus it’s concentration rises.
So the problem appears to be in the clearance of Amyloid beta proteins, instead of their production. By increasing the performance of smooth muscle cells in the blood vessels in the brain we may be able to reduce the symptoms and the progression of AD. Currently there are compounds that do do this exact thing being tested in the UK and Japan. As with any study, we will have to wait and see how effective those will be. But the studies seem accurate and promising.
It is almost scary how many things depend on cardiovascular health. A clear vascular system, may be what makes you live up to 100 years old or more. This and your stem cells, something you cannot really control for now. Although there are researchers who try exactly that. Increasing the lifespan of humans. If you are interested have a look at this website https://www.lifespan.io/campaigns/
I find it really interesting, and the campaigns on the site have a lot of great minds behind them. Such studies may show if indeed all of our problems are due to accumulating damage to our body. Because we keep seeing that all diseases, cancer, cardiovascular, Alzheimer’s, all are due to old age. And more specifically accumulation of damage through the years that leads to issues at older ages.
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Sources: Amyloid-β peptide protects against microbial infection in mouse and worm models of Alzheimer’s disease Human amyloid-beta acts as natural antibiotic in the brain: Alzheimer’s-associated amyloid plaques may trap microbes Alzheimer’s Disease—Failure of Drainage of Fluid from the Brain