KEY POINTS

  • Alzheimer's disease affects many seniors across the world
  • The research found a possible new way to delay the onset of the disease
  • By rebalancing early brain inflammation, the advance of Alzheimer's may slow down 

The new study was on the American Association for Anatomy (AAA) annual meeting agenda before it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The research paved the way for future examinations that can help scientists come up with early interventions to combat Alzheimer’s progression. The study’s abstract has been published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

A Neurodegenerative Disease

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified Alzheimer’s disease as a neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain of a person. As of 2014, approximately 5 million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. Most of the patients are aged 60 years old and over.

Those suffering from the disease begin by having symptoms like mild memory loss but can progress to complete incapability to respond to their environment. Doctors are still at a loss on what causes the disease, but scientists believe it may have been the result of many factors like genetic profile, diet, environment, and age. At present, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, which means its treatment usually focuses on helping patients manage their symptoms and slowing down its progress. rebalancing of brain's inflammation may delay alzheimer's rebalancing of brain's inflammation may delay alzheimer's Photo: silviarita - Pixabay

Telltale Markers

There are three telltale markers of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain, said Dr. Caterina Scuderi, Assistant Professor of pharmacology and toxicology from the Sapienza University of Rome and the study’s co-author. These include the protein deposits inside neurons, buildup of beta-amyloid in the area around the neurons, and neuroinflammation.

In earlier research by Prof. Michael T. Heneka, of the Department of Neurology, University Hospital Bonn, Germany, it highlighted the role of neuroinflammation. In that study, researchers suggested that “neuroinflammation, instead of being a mere bystander activated by emerging senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, contributes as much or more to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease as do the plaques and tangles themselves.” They also revealed there is evidence of early and significant involvement of inflammation in the ailment’s pathogenesis.

An Important Component

This early neuroinflammation is what the authors of the new study are very interested in. Dr. Scuderi and her co-authors believe that inflammation is a vital component of Alzheimer’s disease because of the immune reaction of the body to early abnormal deposits in brain cells.

This immune reaction that causes inflammation can, however, quickly develop to a point where it helps the advance of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Scuderi said that using an intervention at an early phase of the disease, when molecular and cellular alterations have been triggered, could offer a way to slow down Alzheimer’s. She added that this is possible as long as the brain has not sustained any major damage yet.