Alzheimer's Research UK

Finding the link between inflammation and Alzheimer’s

Using state-of-the-art scanning techniques to look at the brains of people with Alzheimer’s this study may help improve diagnosis, as well as shed light on what is happening in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients.

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It ran from 8:27 PM, 20 June 2012 to 8:27 PM, 20 June 2012


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Professor David Brookes at Imperial College and his team are using positron emission tomography (PET) scanning to study both amyloid and inflammation in the brain. Amyloid is the toxic protein that builds up in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. They have already shown that Alzheimer’s patients have high amounts of amyloid, and increased inflammation in the brain. The patients also took memory tests and the team found that people’s performance on memory tests was linked with brain inflammation, but not the amount of amyloid. The researchers think that brain inflammation happens early on in Alzheimer’s, and will be seen in people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. At risk people include those with self reported memory problems, a past history of head trauma or stroke, or those with type 2 diabetes. It’s possible that inflammatory proteins play an important role in the worsening of memory in these people. To test this, the team will measure inflammatory proteins in people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s using PET scans. Their study will find out if inflammation takes place early in the disease and its relevance to people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Their studies may lead to the development of treatments that affect the disease at an early stage.