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Enriched Blood Cells Preserve Cognition in Alzheimer’s

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerAugust 24, 2015

In a study recently published in Brain, a journal of Oxford University Press, researchers from Cedars-Sinai reported that they successfully tested two unique methods for slowing Alzheimer’s disease.Enriched Blood Cells Preserve Cognition in Alzheimer's

Recognizing the importance of the brain’s own immune system in fighting Alzheimer’s, researchers wanted to boost the immune response of the brain. Learn how they were able to do so and what it means for future Alzheimer’s treatment methods.

An Immune Response Helps to Preserve Cognition in Alzheimer’s

Researchers from Cedars-Sinai recently published a study in Brain, a journal of the Oxford University Press, successfully slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s in mice. In the study, researchers were able to improve the brain’s own immune system which enabled the brain to fight beta-amyloid plagues, a hallmark symptom of Alzheimer’s.

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As Alzheimer’s progresses and beta amyloid plaques are formed, it destroys the brain’s immunity, rendering it helpless to destroy the build up of beta-amyloid plaques that develop at the synapses of neurons. Once that happens, cognitive impairment can become severely hindered. Researchers decided to see if boosting the brain’s immunity by sending more white blood cells to the brain could boost the brain’s immune system and fight the progression of Alzheimer’s.

To test their theory, they took white blood cells, called “monocytes,” from bone marrow of healthy mice and used those cells to attack beta-amyloid build up in the brain’s of mice with Alzheimer’s. In addition to directing monocytes to the brain, they also administered an FDA approved drug used to treat multiple sclerosis called “glatiramer acetate.” Glatiramer acetate aids in moving white blood cells toward the brain.

Senior author of the study and assistant professor of neurosurgery and biomedical sciences at Cedars-Sinai, Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, PhD, acknowledged the unique and multi-faceted approach stating:

“The increasing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and the lack of any effective therapy make it imperative to explore new strategies, especially those that can target multiple abnormalities in such a complicated disease.” 

Enriched Blood Cells Show Promising Results for Future Alzheimer’s Treatment

Researchers divided the sick mice into three groups. One group received the monocytes of healthy mice once a month. The second group received a weekly injection of glatiramer acetate, while the third group received both treatments. All three groups had a significant decrease in Alzheimer’s progression and symptoms. 

Koronyo-Hamaoui reported that they were able to successfully recruit monocytes to affected sites of the brain which removed toxic protein fragments and reduced inflammation. The article’s first author and a research associate in the Department of Neurosurgery summed up the study saying:

“This study provides the evidence that a subgroup of unmodified monocytes, extracted from the bone marrow of healthy mouse donors and grafted into the bloodstream, can migrate into the brains of sick mice, directly clear abnormal protein accumulation and preserve cognitive function.”

What do you think about the latest study to slow Alzheimer’s? Are you interested in seeing if these enriched blood cells can preserve cognition in Alzheimer’s in humans? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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