Alzheimer’s disease impacts more than 44 million people around the world and is the most common form of dementia. While there’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there may be new hope for millions of people worldwide impacted by the cognitive condition.
Long-term antibiotic use could reduce inflammation and slow the growth and development of Alzheimer’s symptoms, a new study in mice suggests. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
The researchers at The University of Chicago found that treating male mice with antibiotics reduced the formation of Alzheimer’s-associated amyloid beta plaques in their brains.
Alzheimer’s involves the accumulation of amyloid plaques outside cells and a protein called tau which form lumps within nerve cells. These amyloid plaques damage brain cell function and lead to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
However, the antibiotic treatment did nothing to help the female mice with Alzheimer’s.
“While compelling, our published studies on the role of the gut microbiome on amyloid plaque formation were limited to a single strain of mice,” Professor Sangram S. Sisodia said.
Antibiotic treatment also appeared to alter the activation of microglia — immune cells that can cause inflammation– in male mice into a form that helps keep the brain healthy.
“Our study shows that antibiotic-mediated perturbations of the gut microbiome have selective, sex-specific influences on amyloid plaque formation and microglial activity in the brain,” Sisodia said.
It follows other research released last year that found a new eye scan may be able to detect early Alzheimer’s disease.
Early detection is key in managing the condition and delaying symptoms for as long as possible and the results of two studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology showed that an eye scan from a new imaging device may be an easy and non-invasive way of detecting Alzheimer’s in patients within seconds.
Researchers explained the small blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye are altered in patients with Alzheimer’s – even in patients with a family history of the disease without any visible symptoms.
The imaging process, known as optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA), has been used in recent research to draw a connection between the eye and Alzheimer’s, allowing physicians to see the smallest veins in the back of the eye, such as red blood cells moving through the retina. Researchers believe that because the retina is connected to the brain through the optic nerve, the deterioration in the retina and its blood vessels could mirror changes occurring in blood vessels and structures of the brain.
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