A new literature review suggests that a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases can be mitigated by lifestyle actions that slow inflammation of the nervous tissue.
In the study, investigators reviewed modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases focusing on the impact of neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative disease mechanisms.
Common neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, disorders that are among the most common causes of dementia, and increasingly contribute to morbidity and mortality worldwide.
The study appears in the journal Current Aging Science.
A common hallmark of these two diseases is neuroinflammation, which is initially triggered by the presence of pathological molecular structures associated with these disorders.
Chronic neuroinflammation is sustained by persistent activation of the non-neuronal glial cells in the brain, which results in damage or death of neighboring cells, including neurons and glial cells themselves.
Persistent neuroinflammation of the brain is hypothesized to contribute to the neurodegeneration observed in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
The reviewers note four modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases: physical inactivity, vascular disease-related conditions, obesity and type two diabetes mellitus.
The experts explain that these modifiable risk factors contribute to neuroinflammation through specific mechanisms that are directly linked to the pathologies of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
On a positive note, the risk factors are deemed modifiable as their occurrence in the general population can be reduced, or avoided by individuals through various lifestyle changes. Lifestyle behaviors such as improved diet, regular exercise and effective treatment of vascular disease-related conditions such as high blood pressure are known to reduce neuroinflammation.
Study authors conclude that the control of the modifiable risk factors is a valid approach for managing the increased incidence of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Moreover, research should continue to seek a better understanding of the molecular mechanism of neuroinflammation – an approach that could help identify new therapeutic targets for combating neurodegenerative diseases.