Why Stress May Raise Alzheimer's Risk
Scientists may be one step closer to understanding the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and stress.
According to new research published in the EMBO Journal, a hormone released by the brain in response to stress may increase production of a protein associated with Alzheimer's development.
To conduct their study, researchers from the University of Florida analyzed the brains of mice that had been subjected to acute stress, and compared them with the brains of non-stressed mice. The researchers found that the stressed mice had a greater amount of a protein called beta-amyloid in their brains than the non-stressed mice. It's a known indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.
They also found that that stress causes a hormone called corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF) to be released in the brain. This hormone boosts the activity of an enzyme called gamma secretase, which increases production of beta-amyloid.
The team says their findings point to a potential, but challenging, therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer's disease. It would be to target CRF with an antibody in order to lower levels of the stress hormone and, in turn, to reduce beta-amyloid production.