New sign that triggers Alzheimer’s risk: study warns scientists are wrong

New sign that triggers Alzheimer's risk: study warns scientists are wrong

Alzheimer’s disease continues to be the most common cause of dementia in Spain. According to data from the Spanish Neurological Society (SEN), about 40,000 new cases are diagnosed in our country every year, which are added to the 800,000 Spaniards who already suffer from this pathology. Experts recommend leading a healthy lifestyle, especially a good diet and physical exercise, because they can protect us from some chronic diseases. However, there are other factors that we can do little about, such as amyloid.

This protein usually accumulates in the brain of patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. It is for this reason the accumulation of amyloid plaques is considered one of the most prominent features of this disease, as far as brain tissue is concerned. In fact, for many decades, neuroscientists believed that the accumulation of amyloid plaques, along with tau protein clumps, was the direct culprit in the development of this disease.

Instead, a study published this Monday in the journal Natural medicine to show it amyloid is not primarily responsible for a person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This was confirmed by scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (United States of America) after conducting a blood test on more than 1000 people. All without problems on a cognitive level.

Drugs for another purpose

The results of this research reveal, first, that amyloid is not a clear indicator that a person might develop Alzheimer’s disease. At least if it is detected individually, because, as scientists have found, only those people who have a combination of amyloid and blood markers of abnormal astrocyte activation are at risk of this disease.

For a very short time, practically everything was unknown about astrocytes. It was not even considered that they could play an important role in communication between neurons. However, thanks to the find with the Spanish seal, it was possible to recognize it they act as mediators in communication between neurons. “Astrocytes coordinate the relationship between brain amyloid and tau protein like an orchestra conductor.” The speaker is lead physician Bruna Bellaver, lead author of the study that revealed the importance of this cell in Alzheimer’s patients.

[El mal hábito diario muy extendido en España que daña el cerebro y acelera el alzhéimer]

Discovery places astrocytes at center stage as key regulators of disease progressionwhich challenges the notion that amyloid is sufficient to trigger Alzheimer’s disease,” adds Dr. Tharick Pascoal, professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Pittsburgh and another author of the paper.

The expert also points out that due to the assumption that amyloid was “directly responsible” for Alzheimer’s disease, the production of drugs to alleviate the consequences of this disease was focused mainly on the fight against amyloid and tau, while the relevance of other processes was overlooked.

This is why Pascoal believes that altering other brain processes may be as important as the amyloid burden itself in initiating the neuronal death that characterizes rapid cognitive decline. One such brain process is inflammation of the brain, also known as encephalitis, in which astrocytes play a key role in its protection.

In previous research, this American university professor and his group found that inflammation of brain tissue is a direct cause of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients. Now, nearly two years later, scientists have revealed that too cognitive decline can be predicted by a blood test.

With the goal of stopping disease progression earlier, studies are moving into ever earlier stages of the disease, so correct early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s risk is critical to success. However, after this study, the presence of amyloid in an individual was no longer considered a sufficient factor to invite said person to try an experimental therapy.

In other words, the inclusion of markers such as astrocytes that do not fulfill their original function will improve the selection of patients who are likely to progress to later stages of Alzheimer’s disease and therefore to help refine the selection of candidates to the therapeutic interventions most likely to benefit.

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