Researchers have discovered immune system activity is associated with preservation of memory and other cognitive functions.
In the new study, researchers in the U.S. and in Italy reviewed blood samples from nearly 700 persons. Using a common clinical measure called the Mini Mental State Examination to measure memory and other cognitive functions, they discovered a gene called CCR2 was the top biomarker associated with memory in people.
CCR2 is a well-recognized biomarker of immune system activity associated with removing beta-amyloid – the main Alzheimer’s-causing substance in the brain.
This finding is consistent with recent mice studies that suggested that the immune system is involved in removing beta-amyloid.
In these studies, researchers found that augmenting the CCR2-activated part of the immune system in the blood stream resulted in improved memory and functioning in mice susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.
David Melzer, Ph.D., who led the work, commented: “This is a very exciting result. It may be that CCR2-associated immunity could be strengthened in humans to slow Alzheimer’s disease, but much more work will be needed to ensure that this approach is safe and effective.”
Co-author Lorna Harries, Ph.D., said: “Identification of a key player in the interface between immune function and cognitive ability may help us to gain a better understanding of the disease processes involved in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.”
Source: University of Exeter