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

Rocky start for Alzheimer's drug research in 2018

January 19, 2018
The year 2018, barely underway, has already dealt a series of disheartening blows to the quest for an Alzheimer's cure.

Alzheimer's disease: Neuronal loss very limited

January 17, 2018
Frequently encountered in the elderly, Alzheimer's is considered a neurodegenerative disease, which means that it is accompanied by a significant, progressive loss of neurons and their nerve endings, or synapses. A joint ...

Anxiety: An early indicator of Alzheimer's disease?

January 12, 2018
A new study suggests an association between elevated amyloid beta levels and the worsening of anxiety symptoms. The findings support the hypothesis that neuropsychiatric symptoms could represent the early manifestation of ...

One of the most promising drugs for Alzheimer's disease fails in clinical trials

January 11, 2018
To the roughly 400 clinical trials that have tested some experimental treatment for Alzheimer's disease and come up short, we can now add three more.

Different disease types associated with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains found in Alzheimer's patients

January 9, 2018
An international team of researchers has found different disease type associations with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains in the brains of dead Alzheimer's patients. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National ...

Advances in brain imaging settle debate over spread of key protein in Alzheimer's

January 5, 2018
Recent advances in brain imaging have enabled scientists to show for the first time that a key protein which causes nerve cell death spreads throughout the brain in Alzheimer's disease - and hence that blocking its spread ...

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.