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Stress may contribute to, accelerate Alzheimer’s disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Stress and Alzheimer's disease

New research points to stress as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich conducted animal studies, finding stress hormones led to alteration of the Tau protein in the brain and memory loss.

Stress also linked to beta-amyloid plaques; Alzheimer's disease

The scientists also found higher levels of stress in the rats promoted the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, also implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

In the lab, researchers exposed the animals to overcrowding, and placed them on a vibration platform daily for a month. The increased stress was linked to hyperphosphorylation of tau protein in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.

Osborne Almeida from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry said, "Our findings show that stress hormones and stress can cause changes in the tau protein like those that arise in Alzheimer's disease.”

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Almeida also says it would be interesting to study the link between stress that exacerbates depression and alterations of tau that are molecules prevalent in the brain and provide neuronal stability.

"Viewing stress as a trigger of Alzheimer's disease offers exciting new research possibilities aimed at preventing and delaying this severe disease.”

Scientists from University of Minho in Braga, Portugal were also involved in the study. The researchers wanted to discover the link between stress and Alzheimer’s disease, which is linked to adverse life events and release of glucocorticoids and accumulation of Tau.

The Journal of Neuroscience
“Stress Acts Cumulatively To Precipitate Alzheimer's Disease-Like Tau Pathology and Cognitive Deficits”
Ioannis Sotiropoulos

Image credit: Wikimedia commons