Predicting Alzheimer’s: major inflammation in your 40s puts you at higher risk
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland found that extreme inflammation – which can be caused in middle age by weight gain and high blood pressure or diabetes – could be a sign of impending Alzheimer’s disease.
When the scientists observed 1,633 people between the ages of 45 and 65 who were given blood tests for five signs of inflammation, they found that those who manifested around three or more signs of inflammation later on – around 24 years later – developed Alzheimer’s disease.
Additionally, when the same people were given a memory test to remember 10 words, they failed to memorize all 10 words and managed to retain in their memories only five. Meanwhile, people who had no signs of inflammation during their middle age were able to remember 5.5 words on average.
“These results suggest that inflammation in midlife may be an early contributor to the brain changes that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Because the processes that lead to brain cell loss begin decades before people start showing any symptoms, it is vital that we figure out how these processes that happen in middle age affect people many years later,” lead author Dr. Keenan Walker said.
The scientists linked inflammation with brain deterioration as they were able to observe dementia patients who are also suffering from inflammatory episodes from chest or urine infections had their memory degradation speed up.
“This is an important study which lends support to the hypothesis that the immune system plays a role in the development of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. Previous research has shown that anti-inflammatory medications, taken for other reasons, may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” University of Exeter Middle School honorary clinical senior lecturer Dr. Joe Butchart said.
For his part, University of Cambridge Emeritus professor of immunology, Sir Peter Lachmann, said: “The present findings would support the views that anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirinand avoidance of smoking might delay the onset of dementia.”
The link between gut microorganisms and neurodegenerative disorders
A study that was presented on Tuesday, November 14 at Neuroscience 2017, which is the annual meeting for the Society of Neuroscience, showed how gut microbiome and brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are associated with one another.
Around 100 trillion microbes – some good and some bad – reside in the human gastrointestinal tract. According to the new study, the metabolites that were obtained from the microbiome block protein misfolding in test tubes halted neurodegeneration in a fly model of a disease that was related to Parkinson’s. It also showed that a rat model of Parkinson’s disease had heightened levels of an inflammatory protein in the colon, presenting a possible new biomarker for the disease. Also, a gene associated with risk for Alzheimer’s disease influenced the gut microbiome of mice, revealing a potential new treatment strategy.