Home > Uncategorized > Research Review: Examining the Significance of the Blood-Brain Barrier in Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

Research Review: Examining the Significance of the Blood-Brain Barrier in Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

A recent study performed at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California has suggested that the barrier which prevents the escape of dangerous chemicals from the blood into the brain may become leaky with age.  Further, this process starts at the hippocampus, a structure within the brain which is critical for learning and memory, and which is damaged in Alzheimer’s Disease.)  Researchers went on to speculate that it may be possible to use brain scans to detect changes which occur in the hippocampus, early enough to be reversible, thus aiding in the elimination of one risk factor for the development of dementia.

The study was reported in the Jan. 21, 2015, edition of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Neuron. The principal investigator was Berislav V. Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Zilkha Neurogenic Institute (ZNI), at the Keck School of Medicine, the Mary Hayley and Selim Zilkha Chair for Alzheimer’s Disease Research.  Zlokovic stated that this study as significant in that it contributed to the understanding of how the vascular system affects the health of our brains.  He went on to explain that we may need to find ways to reseal the blood-brain barrier to prevent the brain from being flooded with toxic chemicals in the blood, and thus becoming at risk for the development of dementia.

The research team examined the brains of subjects of various ages, using contrast-enhanced brain images, and found that early vascular leakage in normally aging brains occurs in the hippocampus.  They also found that there was more damage among people with dementia than those with “normal” brains, when controlled for age.  Researchers also examined found that subjects with mild dementia had 30% more albumin (a blood protein) in their cerebrospinal fluid, again removing age as a contributing factor.  This last finding was seen as a further indication of a leaky blood-brain barrier.

Source:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/150121130815.htm

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