Alzheimer’s: Is brain inflammation the missing trigger?

Medical professional looking at a brain scan
A new study looks at the role of inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease. maradek/Getty Images

While neuroinflammation has been seen in individuals with Alzheimer’s in the past, the current research is the first to show that the inflammatory response plays a key role in the development of the illness. Microglial cells in the brain’s immune system stimulate the spread of tau proteins, which aggregate to form amyloid plaque. Dr. Heather M. Snyder, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, who was not involved in the research, was quoted by Medical News Today on the subject of neuroinflammation. Research on Alzheimer’s disease has received financial support from the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Inflammation in the body does more than just get rid of germs,” Snyder said. “It’s involved in getting rid of disease, too, particularly in the brain and the central nervous system.” Microglia, which aid in removing debris (damaged neurons and infectious microorganisms) from the brain, assist to clean it of debris. The current research is the first to demonstrate the connection between microglial activation and the spread of tau fibers in live humans, which earlier studies using cultured cells and laboratory animals had done. The study observed 130 individuals across the age and Alzheimer’s disease spectrum to learn about microglial activation, amyloid plaque, and tau tangles. The researchers studied the subjects using MRI and PET scans. Treating Alzheimer’s disease is hard because the condition remains difficult to manage neuroinflammation.

Dr. Pascoal said to MNT that “anti-inflammatory medicines may possibly decrease neuroinflammation,” and he informed them specifically that many different medications could do this. Despite this, several treatments have previously been tried in clinical trials to reduce cognitive decline and have so far been unsuccessful. He suggested that the problem may be the scheduling of therapy. “When patients’ brains just contain tau pathology in the medial temporal cerebral cortex, anti-inflammatory medicines show optimum efficacy,” he notes. Dr. Pascoal concludes that our findings indicate that early use of anti-amyloid and anti-inflammatory treatments (in combination) in the temporal cortex may enhance the effectiveness of these medications. Snyder said that the Alzheimer’s Association’s Part the Cloud project (launched in 2016) is aimed on speeding discoveries from the laboratory, through trials, into potential treatments — that is, funding early phase clinical research in order to bridge the drug development gap.

She said, “Scientists were asked to propose therapy ideas for translating into human trials to improve cognition in people with neurodegenerative illnesses. This was accomplished by addressing neuroinflammation.” The program implemented four initiatives. The research discovery fills him with optimism for the individuals in question. He contends that treating each disease separately is less efficient than using an approach that addresses both problems in tandem.

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Categories: Clinical, Mental Health