Can aspirin treat Alzheimer's?

July 2, 2018, Rush University Medical Center
PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer's disease. Credit: public domain

A regimen of low-dose aspirin potentially may reduce plaques in the brain, which will reduce Alzheimer's disease pathology and protect memory, according to neurological researchers at Rush University Medical Center, who published the results of their study today in the July issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

"The results of our study identifies a possible new role for one of the most widely used, common, over-the-counter medications in the world," said Kalipada Pahan, Ph.D., the study's senior author and lead research investigator, who also is the Floyd A. Davis, MD, Endowed Chair of Neurology and professor of neurological sciences, biochemistry and pharmacology in Rush Medical College.

Alzheimer's disease is a fatal form of dementia that affects up to 1 in 10 Americans age 65 or older. To date, the FDA has approved very few drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease-related dementia and the medications that exist can only provide limited symptomatic relief.

The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease progression is unknown; however, poor disposal of the toxic protein in the brain is a leading mechanism in dementia and memory loss.

Activating the cellular machinery responsible for removing waste from the brain therefore has emerged as a promising strategy for slowing Alzheimer's disease.

Amyloid beta forms clumps called plaques, which harm connections between nerve cells and are one of the major signs of Alzheimer's disease. Building on previous studies demonstrating a link between and reduced risk and prevalence of Alzheimer's disease,

Pahan and his colleagues were able to show that aspirin decreases amyloid plaque pathology in mice by stimulating lysosomes—the component of animal cells that help clear cellular debris.

Aspirin treatment reduces amyloid beta burden in the hippocampus of 5XFAD mouse model of AD. Credit: Chandra et al., JNeurosci (2018)
"Understanding how plaques are cleared is important to developing effective drugs that stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease," said Pahan.

A protein called TFEB is considered the master regulator of waste removal. The researchers gave aspirin orally for a month to genetically modified mice with Alzheimer's pathology, then evaluated the amount of amyloid plaque in the parts of the brain affected most by Alzheimer's .

They found that the aspirin medications augmented TFEB, stimulated lysosomes and decreased amyloid pathology in the mice.

"This research study adds another potential benefit to aspirin's already established uses for pain relief and for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases," said Pahan. "More research needs to be completed, but the findings of our study has major potential implications for the therapeutic use of aspirin in AD and other dementia-related illnesses."

Explore further: New tools could uncover important answers for Alzheimer's researchers

More information: Sujyoti Chandra et al, Aspirin induces Lysosomal biogenesis and attenuates Amyloid plaque pathology in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease via PPARα, The Journal of Neuroscience (2018). DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0054-18.2018 , dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0054-18.2018

Related Stories

New tools could uncover important answers for Alzheimer's researchers

April 30, 2018
Alzheimer's disease currently affects more than 5.5 million Americans and is one of the costliest diseases to treat, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Characterized by a buildup of plaque in the brain, few animal ...

Alzheimer's drug targeting soluble amyloid falls short in a large clinical trial

January 25, 2018
A paper published today in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that solanezumab, a monoclonal antibody-based treatment for Alzheimer's disease developed by Eli Lilly that targets amyloid plaques, did not significantly ...

Alzheimer's disease might be a 'whole body' problem

October 31, 2017
Alzheimer's disease, the leading cause of dementia, has long been assumed to originate in the brain. But research from the University of British Columbia and Chinese scientists indicates that it could be triggered by breakdowns ...

Genetically engineered mice suggest new model for how Alzheimer's causes dementia

July 4, 2016
Using a novel, newly developed mouse model that mimics the development of Alzheimer's disease in humans, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have been able to determine that a one-two punch of major biological "insults" must ...

Recommended for you

Meditation and music may alter blood markers of cellular aging and Alzheimer's disease

November 13, 2018
A research team led by Dr. Kim Innes, a professor in the West Virginia University School of Public Health, has found that a simple meditation or music listening program may alter certain biomarkers of cellular aging and Alzheimer's ...

Alzheimer's and cardiovascular disease share common genetics in some patients

November 9, 2018
Genetics may predispose some people to both Alzheimer's disease and high levels of blood lipids such as cholesterol, a common feature of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study by an international team of researchers ...

Artificial intelligence predicts Alzheimer's years before diagnosis

November 6, 2018
Artificial intelligence (AI) technology improves the ability of brain imaging to predict Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in the journal Radiology.

Diabetes medications may reduce Alzheimer's disease severity

November 1, 2018
People with Alzheimer's disease who were treated with diabetes drugs showed considerably fewer markers of the disease—including abnormal microvasculature and disregulated gene expressions—in their brains compared to Alzheimer's ...

Massive study confirms that loneliness increases risk of dementia

October 29, 2018
A new Florida State University College of Medicine study involving data from 12,000 participants collected over 10 years confirms the heavy toll that loneliness can take on your health: It increases your risk of dementia ...

Bioactive compound from the Rhodiola plant improves memory

October 25, 2018
In an ageing society, more people are suffering from memory disorders. The progressive loss of memory severely impairs the quality of life of those affected. So far, no drugs are known to prevent age-related cognitive decline.

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.