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Stress Could Have A Notable Effect In Quickening The Progression Of Alzheimer's disease

Study finds that stress hormones might rapidly worsen the formation of brain lesions that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease// .

According to the research led by Frank LaFerla, professor of neurobiology and behaviour, and a team of researchers from UC Irvine, with the collaboration from Lauren Billings, postdoctoral researcher, and Benno Roozendaal, assistant researcher in neurobiology and behaviour, managing stress and reduction of certain medications that are prescribed for the elderly could slow the development of Alzheimer’s. The study was funded by grants from the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Mental Health.

The researchers in their study with genetically modified mice, found that when young animals were injected for just seven days with dexamethasone, a glucocorticoid similar to the body’s stress hormones, the levels of the protein beta-amyloid in the brain increased by 60 percent. When beta-amyloid production increases and these protein fragments aggregate, they form plaques, one of the two hallmark brain lesions of Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists also found that the levels of another protein, tau, also increased. Tau accumulation eventually leads to the formation of tangles, the other signature lesion of Alzheimer’s. The findings appear in this week’s issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

“It is remarkable that these stress hormones can have such a significant effect in such a short period of time,” LaFerla said. 'Although we have known for some time that higher levels of stress hormones are seen in individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, this is the first time we have seen how these hormones play such a direct role in exacerbating the underlying pathology of the disease.'

The researchers injected four-month-old transgenic mice with levels of dexamethasone similar to the level of hormones that would be seen in humans under stress. At t
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