Aug 23, 2010

Rheumatoid Arthritis and its Relationship to Alzheimer's Disease

By Max Wallack
Alzheimer's Reading Room

According to the Caroline Parkinson, Health Reporter for BBC News, “Arthritis protein guards against Alzheimer’s disease.” When this protein was given to mice with memory loss, they did better in memory tests.

It had been noted previously that people with rheumatoid arthritis were less likely to get Alzheimer’s, but the benefits were attributed to the anti-inflammatory drugs that the patients were taking.

Researchers at the University of South Florida treated mice, both healthy ones and those with Alzheimer’s symptoms, with GM-CSF, an attacking protein produced by people with rheumatoid arthritis.

After 20 days, the Alzheimer’s mice who received the GM-CSF protein did much better on memory and learning tests. Even the healthy mice receiving the protein performed better than those who had not received the protein.

Researchers have suggested that “ The protein may attract an influx of cells called microglia from the peripheral blood supply around the brain, which then attack the characteristic plaques that form in people with Alzheimer’s. Microglia are like the body’s natural rubbish collectors that go to damaged or inflamed areas to get rid of toxic substances. The brains of GM-CSF-treated Alzheimer’s mice showed more than a 50% decrease in beta amyloid, the substance which forms Alzheimer’s plaques.”

Dr. Huntington Potter, who led the research at the University of South Florida’s Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, said: “Our findings provide a compelling explanation for why rheumatoid arthritis is a negative risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research for the Alzheimer’s Society said, “The exciting research provides a possible answer to the long, unexplained question of why rheumatoid arthritis could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

It looks like this area wants some careful research and study!

Max Wallack is a student at Boston University Academy. His great grandmother, Gertrude, suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Max is the founder of PUZZLES TO REMEMBER. PTR is a project that provides puzzles to nursing homes and veterans institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

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Original content Max Wallack, the Alzheimer's Reading Room