Proteins Could Slow Memory Loss with Alzheimer’s
New research at Iowa State University suggests that a specific neural protein may be the key to slowing memory loss and brain degeneration that are part of Alzheimer’s disease.
Using data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, researcher Auriel Willette was able to analyze brain scans of those with “full-blown”Alzheimer’s, those with mild cognitive impairment from Alzheimer’s and those without the disease. By using the data, he was able to not only compare different scans, but also different fluid samples from the brain and the spine.
He found that people who had higher levels of the protein neuronal pentraxin-2, had little to no memory loss after two years. Neuronal pentraxin-2 is known as a “chemical bulldozer” that helps pull away old nerve debris so that fresh nerve connections can be formed. Willette also found that after two years, those with higher levels of inflammatory proteins in the spinal fluid had greater memory loss and brain degeneration.
Willette said the results suggest that a key to resisting the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's may be to promote production of neuronal pentraxin-2. He noted that frequent exercise may help and also that having a job involving complex tasks and maintaining social engagements can help protect neural connections.