A new study from the Journal of Clinical Investigation shows that a protein that controls high blood pressure may prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s by destroying beta-amyloid proteins which are highly associated with the disease.
What is ACE?
ACE is an acronym for “angiotensin converting enzyme” and is a naturally occurring protein found in tissues throughout the body. ACE helps to control blood pressure by regulating the amount of fluids in the body.
People with high blood pressure often take ACE inhibitors to treat hypertension and congestive heart failure. An ACE inhibitor will lower blood pressure by limiting ACE activity and widening blood vessels. While high activity of the enzyme needs to be controlled for blood pressure, scientists now think that high amounts of ACE may prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
ACE and Alzheimer’s
A new study from the Journal of Clinical Investigation shows that ACE can induce an immune response in the brain and boost brain power in laboratory mice.
Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center found that by targeting certain immune blood cells, they could overproduce ACE which broke down beta-amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s and slowed cognitive decline.
The results were so shocking that researcher Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery in the Department of Neurosurgery and the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said:
“We were absolutely astonished by the lack of Alzheimer’s-associated pathology in the crossed mice at the age of 7 months and again at a 13-month follow-up. At first, we thought we had a genotyping error in identifying these mice as carriers of the aggressive familial Alzheimer’s mutations.”
Previous studies have shown that an increase of ACE elevates immunity against tumors and bacterial infections. Researchers say that while the future of Alzheimer’s treatment could involve ACE overexpression, the most informative part of their study was proving the effectiveness of a combined approach that destroys beta-amyloid proteins, which are highly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
New Study Supports Findings That High Blood Pressure Medication is Linked to Alzheimer’s
To further support the findings from 2014, a new study from Brigham Young University (BYU) found that anti-hypertensive drugs can protect the brain from Alzheimer’s.
Researchers analyzed the genetic data from over 17,000 people with Alzheimer’s and over 37,000 people without the disease. Their analysis found that there is a correlation between high blood pressure and a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers are careful to note that it is most likely not high blood pressure leading to the protective benefits, but rather the anti-hypertensive drugs that people who have high blood pressure are exposed to.
Researcher and associate professor of biology at BYU John Kauwe, said, “It’s likely that this protective effect is coming from anti-hypertensive drugs. These drugs are already FDA approved. We need to take a serious look at them for Alzheimer’s prevention.”
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