Natural brain inflammation may increase the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. These natural events include aging, diabetes and obesity.
The immune system may play a role
Scientists at UK’s Southamptom University started a three-year study on the topic in January. They are using brain tissue donated by people who died with Alzheimer’s disease. Cross-referencing their medical records will tell researchers if some types of inflammation, including inflammation caused by infection, also speeds up progress of the disease.
They are hoping to further define the role of the immune system in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. These researchers suspect that the immune system goes beyond its role as protector of the body and starts causing damage, not unlike an autoimmune disease.
Infection and inflammation may increase progression
“Many of the known risk factors for Alzheimer’s, like age, obesity and diabetes, increase inflammation in the brain and we think that infection could be another risk factor,” said study leader Delphine Boche, lecturer in Clinical Neurosciences at Southampton.
“There is already evidence that the immune system is on high alert in people with Alzheimer’s and we think that an extra trigger, like an infection, could tip the balance and make immune cells switch from being protective to harmful.”
Findings could influence management of the disease
“The findings could have important implications both for our understanding of the disease and for the management of healthcare in the elderly,” says Boche. Slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s could have a huge impact on families and allow people more valuable time with their loved ones,” said Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK. “Only by understanding the factors that drive the disease, can we develop new and innovative ways to slow it down.”
Source: University of Southamptom, MedicalNewsToday