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Possible new cause of Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers have found a possible new cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

<p>Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia, but researchers think they may have found a possible new cause. [Source: Shuttershock]</p>

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia, but researchers think they may have found a possible new cause. [Source: Shuttershock]

Key points

  • Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may begin with memory and thinking difficulties

 

Results from a study released earlier this month, February 9, 2024, suggest that there may be a lesser-known factor at play for the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. 

As Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain, other researchers have conducted studies on the central immune system in the brain. However, few studies analyse the immune system found in the blood of people who have Alzheimer’s disease, hence the researchers’ decision to investigate this aspect.  

The evidence suggests that the immune system in the blood of people with Alzheimer’s disease is epigenetically altered, meaning that their behaviour or environment could have impacted the way their genes work.

David Gate, a professor of neurology and lead investigator of the study, provided suggestions of what might be influencing the immune system in the blood of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

“It could be that environmental factors, like pollutants, or infections that a person has in their lifetime cause these epigenetic changes,” said Professor Gate.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, with up to 70 percent of people with dementia diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In 2022, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated that over 401,000 Australians were living with some form of dementia, which suggests there may have been over 280,000 Australians affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is progressive, meaning that the symptoms of dementia cause deterioration in the affected person’s abilities and behaviours. In Alzheimer’s disease, initial problems are first observed through thinking, memory and reasoning difficulties, and can eventually lead to changes such as confusion and differing behaviours. 

While there appears to be evidence in the results, Professor Gates suggests that further research may be required to understand more about the implications of this research and to form a conclusion.

 “We haven’t yet untangled whether these changes are reflective of brain pathology or whether they precipitate the disease,” said Professor Gate.

“Altogether, these findings indicate that immune function in Alzheimer’s patients is significantly altered,”  Professor Gate continued. 

While there is progress in research for people with Alzheimer’s disease, there are ways to reduce your risk of dementia. 

Australians older than 60 years may benefit from including multivitamins in their daily routine, as highlighted by new research results released recently.

Participants in the study were assigned a scheduled multivitamin dose and were studied by researchers who compared their results to a control group, with positive results evident; researchers emphasised the importance of their findings as untreated cognitive impairment can develop into other more serious conditions such as dementia.

Looking after your body with diet can be beneficial, as can owning a pet. Pets are also great listeners — older people can talk to them, share stories and have conversations. This keeps the brain sharp and helps with talking and understanding others as well.

 

What are your thoughts on this Alzheimer’s disease research? 

Let the team at Talking Aged Care know and subscribe to the newsletter for weekly news, information and industry updates.

 

Related content:

Researchers discover why some people’s brains aren’t impaired by ageing

How a daily multivitamin dose may reduce the risk of dementia

What is ‘super ageing?’

 

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