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

Largest study of its kind finds alcohol use biggest risk factor for dementia

February 21, 2018
Alcohol use disorders are the most important preventable risk factors for the onset of all types of dementia, especially early-onset dementia. This according to a nationwide observational study, published in The Lancet Public ...

Data detectives shift suspicions in Alzheimer's to inside villain

February 20, 2018
The mass pursuit of a conspicuous suspect in Alzheimer's disease may have encumbered research success for decades. Now, a new data analysis that has untangled evidence amassed in years of Alzheimer's studies encourages researchers ...

Not being aware of memory problems predicts onset of Alzheimer's disease

February 15, 2018
Doctors who work with individuals at risk of developing dementia have long suspected that patients who do not realize they experience memory problems are at greater risk of seeing their condition worsen in a short time frame, ...

Researchers successfully reverse Alzheimer's disease in mouse model

February 14, 2018
A team of researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute have found that gradually depleting an enzyme called BACE1 completely reverses the formation of amyloid plaques in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's ...

Poor fitness linked to weaker brain fiber, higher dementia risk

February 14, 2018
Scientists have more evidence that exercise improves brain health and could be a lifesaving ingredient that prevents Alzheimer's disease.

Compound prevents neurological damage, shows cognitive benefits in mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

February 7, 2018
The supplement nicotinamide riboside (NR) – a form of vitamin B3 – prevented neurological damage and improved cognitive and physical function in a new mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. The results of the study, conducted ...

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.