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The Key to Avoiding Alzheimer’s May be Plenty of REST

June 21, 2014

Yes, rest is important for brain health, but a new study at Harvard also suggests the importance of REST.

There are many things we do not understand about Alzheimer’s disease.  One is why some people not develop the disease, even when their brains have the beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles that have become the hallmark of the affliction.

That’s where REST comes in.  REST is a protein found in developing fetuses that helps protect the brain from stress.  Researchers observed that this same REST protein is also found in high levels in the brains of seniors who do not have cognitive issues.  In people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the brain shows a notable depletion of REST.

Researchers concluded that the cognitive issues associated with Alzheimer’s might be related to a weakness in the brain’s ability to handle stress.  When the stress response is working well, REST (associated with stress protection) provides protection from the abnormal proteins of Alzheimer’s.  If the stress response of the brain fails, however, important areas of the brain show deterioration.   This study is a helpful advance in understanding why some people get the disease and others do not.

With additional research, this discovery could lead to the development of new pharmaceutical products for dementia, which so far is untreatable with drugs.

 

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