First study to suggest that the immune system may protect against Alzheimer's changes in humans

May 25, 2012, University of Exeter

Recent work in mice suggested that the immune system is involved in removing beta-amyloid, the main Alzheimer's-causing substance in the brain. Researchers have now shown for the first time that this may apply in humans.

Researchers at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter with colleagues in the National Institute on Aging in the USA and in Italy screened the of thousands of genes in blood samples from nearly 700 people. The telltale marker of immune system activity against beta-amyloid, a gene called CCR2, emerged as the top marker associated with memory in people.

The team used a common clinical measure called the Mini Mental State Examination to measure memory and other cognitive functions.

The previous work in mice showed that augmenting the CCR2-activated part of the immune system in the resulted in improved memory and functioning in mice susceptible to Alzheimer's disease.

Professor David Melzer, who led the work, commented: "This is a very exciting result. It may be that CCR2-associated immunity could be strengthened in humans to slow Alzheimer's disease, but much more work will be needed to ensure that this approach is safe and effective".

Dr Lorna Harries, co-author, commented: "Identification of a key player in the interface between and cognitive ability may help us to gain a better understanding of the disease processes involved in Alzheimer's disease and related disorders."

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and affects around 496,000 people in the UK.

More information: Lorna W. Harries, Rachel M. Bradley-Smith, David J. Llewellyn, Luke C. Pilling, Alexander Fellows, William Henley, Dena Hernandez, Jack M. Guralnik, Stefania Bandinelli, Andrew Singleton, Luigi Ferrucci and David Melzer. Leukocyte ccr2 expression is associated with mini-mental state examination (MMSE) score in older adults. Rejuvenation Research 2012 online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/ … 0.1089/rej.2011.1302

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive decline in people with dementia

May 16, 2018
Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive (mental) impairment in older people with dementia, finds a trial published by The BMJ today.

Mutation discovered to protect against Alzheimer's disease in mice

May 16, 2018
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science have discovered a mutation that can protect against Alzheimer's disease in mice. Published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the study found that a specific ...

Most deprived are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia

May 16, 2018
Older adults in England with fewer financial resources are more likely to develop dementia, according to new UCL research.

Scientists discover a variation of the genome predisposing to Alzheimer's disease

May 15, 2018
An article published in Nature Medicine shows that the inheritance of small changes in DNA alters the expression of the PM20D1 gene and is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Restoring epigenetic balance reinstates memory in flies with Alzheimer's disease symptoms

May 14, 2018
Researchers from Drexel University reversed symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in fruit flies by restoring the balance between two epigenetic enzymes that regulate gene expression, a study shows.

Neuroprotective molecule could improve memory and cognition, reduce Alzheimer's degradation

May 10, 2018
A Purdue University graduate and a Purdue Research Park of Northwest Indiana (NWI) startup have published a research study in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters that identifies a small molecule SERCA activator that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.