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Reducing brain inflammation could reduce Alzheimer's risk

February 1, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Associate Editor
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Reducing brain inflammation could stop progression of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published in the journal "Brain."

Researchers at the University of Southampton in England found blocking a brain receptor that regulates immune cells could protect against memory and behavior changes associated with the disease.

The study adds to the growing body of evidence that inflammation in the brain drives the development of Alzheimer's--not a result of the disease. An overactive immune system can result in chronic inflammation.

"These findings are as close to evidence as we can get to show that this particular pathway is active in the development of Alzheimer’s disease," says lead author Diego Gomez-Nicola, PhD, in a university-issued news release. “The next step is to work closely with our partners in industry to find a safe and suitable drug that can be tested to see if it works in humans."

Researchers analyzed tissue samples from healthy brains and brains with Alzheimer’s from people at the same age. They counted the number of the immune cell microglia and found they were more plentiful in people with Alzheimer's.

They then studied whether blocking the receptor responsible for regulating microglia could improve cognitive skills in mice. They found an inhibitor reduced only the excess microglia, meaning the mice were able to maintain normal immune function in the brain. Treated mice showed fewer memory and behavioral problems than untreated mice. 

Read the study here

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