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Immune system protects against beta-amyloid


Recent work with lab mice suggests that the immune system may play a role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. It may serve an important function in removing beta-amyloid which is the main Alzheimer’s causing substance in the brain. These findings may apply to humans.

Researchers screened the expression levels of thousands of genes in blood samples of nearly 700 people. The telltale marker of immune system activity against beta-amyloid is a gene called CCR2. This emerged as the top marker associated with memory in humans. Researchers from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter and colleagues in the National Institute on Aging in the USA and Italy used a common clinical measure called the Mini Mental State Examination to measure memory.

Previous work on mice revealed that augmenting the CCR2-activated part of the immune system in the blood stream led to improved memory and cognitive functioning in mice who were susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.

“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,” stated Professor David Melzer, who led the work.

“Identification of a key player in the interface between immune function and cognitive ability may help us to gain a better understanding of the disease processes involved in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders,” explained Dr. Lorna Harries, co-author.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia with no current treatment or cure.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Exeter

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