Alzheimer’s disease is an enormous problem that, with an aging population, will only become bigger. More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and 1 in 3 seniors will die of it, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. By 2050, the cost of Alzheimer’s disease, currently estimated at $355 billion, will rise to $1.1 trillion.
Could one of the causes of such a huge and costly problem be traced back to the cells that line the body’s tiniest blood vessels?
A new study published by a Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) research team in Molecular Therapy suggests that the answer is yes. The team, led by Hongkuan Fan, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, found fewer of these cells, known as pericytes, in the brains of people who died of Alzheimer’s disease. They also found higher levels of Fli-1, a protein most often found in blood cells and thought to govern their development.
When the team blocked, or inhibited, the action of Fli-1 in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, the memory of the mice improved. Blocking the protein also stopped immune cells from leaking into the brain and causing the inflammation that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Blocking Fli-1 could be a promising new approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Click to continue enjoying the complete article.