According to new findings from Karolinska Institutet the final stage of the normal inflammatory process may be disrupted in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
As with other neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s is characterised by an inflammatory process in the brain. Prolonged inflammation with the release of inflammatory and toxic substances can cause further damage and neuronal death. The inflammatory process normally ends in what is known as resolution. This is an active process regulated by certain molecules, so called specialized pro-resolving mediators, where the tissue is cleared from microorganisms, debris from dead cells via an uptake mechanism (phagocytosis), and where the release of growth factors stimulates tissue repair.
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have, together with colleagues in the US, shown that the levels of resolution-regulating molecules in the brain and in the cerebrospinal fluid are lower in Alzheimer’s disease than normal. Furthermore, the researchers have shown that the lower levels of these molecules correlate with a lower degree of cognitive function, that is, memory capacity. The results are based on analyses of cerebrospinal fluid from 15 patients with Alzheimer’s disease, 20 patients with mild cognitive impairment and 21 control subjects.
“Our hypothesis is that stimulation of resolution of inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease may result in reduced neuronal death in the brain, and in turn have a beneficial effect in disease progression and cognition. This is an entirely new approach and provides the opportunity to develop new treatment principles for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Professor Marianne Schultzberg, who led the study at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, in a press release.