A researcher in Iowa State University has found that certain proteins can lessen the pace of devastating memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Auriel Willette, a researcher in food science and human nutrition, conducted the groundbreaking study which findings will be presented at the annual scientific meeting of the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society in Seattle on June 3 to 6.

Willette has found proofs that high presence of a protein called neuronal pentraxin-2 can minimize cognitive decline and lessen brain atrophy caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

The researcher made a comparison between brain scans and fluid from the brain and spine based on three groups, which are people without Alzheimer’s disease, people with Alzheimer’s disease who have mild cognitive impairment or memory problems and people who have full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the study, those who have higher levels of neuronal pentraxin-2, the protein that controls immune functions and links between neurons, had little or no memory loss after two years. Alternatively, participants who had levels of inflammatory proteins in their cerebrospinal fluid, experienced modestly greater memory loss and brain atrophy after two years.

Willette said that reducing or eliminating risk factors for brain inflammation might prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Obesity is one of the causes of developing Alzheimer’s disease as body weight leads to inflammation in the brain. To boost a person’s level of neuronal pentraxin-2, exercise is crucial.

“If part of this is related to obesity, moderate exercise and reducing body weight can reduce chronic inflammation in the brain,” Willette said. “Exercise definitely does increase your protective factors.”

 

Photo: Blake Lanser Released by Iowa State University Website

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