Stress May Increase Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

November 6, 2015

Researchers have found that stress may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Stress causes our bodies to release hormones when under pressure. There seems to be a link between the stress hormones and the rogue proteins behind the neurological disorder associated with AD. The chemical fragments, known as amyloid beta, clump together in the brain causing memory loss. These studies have shown a link between genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors.


Scientists have a much harder time figuring out the non-genetic factors that increase the risk for AD. When studying mice, the study found stress hormones in the brain which increases the production of the amyloid protein. When amyloid collects in the brain it initiates a complex degenerative process that leads to AD. Labs tests showed that acute stress on mice increased the amount of this protein in the group as opposed to the control group. The stressed mice also had more of the specific form of amyloid that particularly leads to development of the disease.


When scientists treated human brains with the stress hormone, it caused an increase in the amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s. This experiment revealed more of the mechanics of a relationship between stress and AD. They also discovered that blocking the stress hormone did not work towards reducing or stopping the build-up of the amyloid beta. Researchers are now studying antibodies that could block the stress hormone directly. This is just another step toward finding a cure.


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