Scientists have uncovered a potential approach to treat one of the commonest causes of dementia and stroke in older people.
Studies with rats found the treatment can reverse changes in blood vessels in the brain associated with the condition, called cerebral small vessel disease.
Treatment also prevents damage to brain cells caused by these blood vessel changes, raising hope that it could offer a therapy for dementia.
Small vessel disease, or SVD, is a major cause of dementia and can also worsen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It is responsible for almost half of all dementia cases in the UK and is a major cause of stroke, accounting for around one in five cases.
Patients with SVD are diagnosed from brain scans, which detect damage to white matter – a key component of the brain’s wiring.
Until now, it was not known how changes in small blood vessels in the brain associated with SVD can cause damage to brain cells.
A team led by the University of Edinburgh found that SVD occurs when cells that line the small blood vessels in the brain become dysfunctional. This causes them to secrete a molecule into the brain.
The molecule stops production of the protective layer that surrounds brain cells – called myelin – which leads to brain damage.
Treating rats with drugs that stop blood vessel cells from becoming dysfunctional reversed the symptoms of SVD and prevented brain damage, tests found.
Researchers say that further studies will need to test whether the treatment also works when the disease is firmly established. They will also need to check if the treatment can reverse the symptoms of dementia.
Dementia is one of the biggest problems facing society, as people live longer and the population ages. Estimates indicate there are almost 47 million people living with dementia worldwide and the numbers affected are expected to double every 20 years, rising to more than 115 million by 2050.
The research, published in Science Translational Medicine, was carried out at the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine and the UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Edinburgh. It was funded by the MRC, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Fondation Leducq.
Professor Anna Williams, Group Leader at the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, said: “This important research helps us understand why small vessel disease happens, providing a direct link between small blood vessels and changes in the brain that are linked to dementia. It also shows that these changes may be reversible, which paves the way for potential treatments.”
Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “Changes to the blood supply in the brain play an important role in Alzheimer’s disease as well as being a direct cause of vascular dementia. This pioneering research highlights a molecular link between changes to small blood vessels in the brain and damage to the insulating ‘white matter’ that helps nerve cells to send signals around the brain.
“The findings highlight a promising direction for research into treatments that could limit the damaging effects of blood vessel changes and help keep nerve cells functioning for longer. There are currently no drugs that slow down or stop Alzheimer’s disease and no treatments to help people living with vascular dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK is very pleased to have helped fund this innovative research, which is only possible thanks to the work of our dedicated supporters.”
The Latest on: Small vessel disease
via Google News
The Latest on: Small vessel disease
- Sphenoid sinusitis: a rare cause of ischaemic strokeon October 4, 2021 at 9:36 pm
We present the case of a 61-year-old woman who presented to the accident and emergency department with an ischaemic stroke, on a background of receiving intravenous and oral antibiotics to treat ...
- Sexual Violence Can Have Long-Term Physical Effectson September 30, 2021 at 2:00 pm
Survivors of sexual abuse or assault, intimate partner violence, or sexual harassment face increased risk for serious physical problems later in life, research suggests.
- Sexual assault could lead to brain disorders, study suggestson September 27, 2021 at 1:09 pm
Researchers examined whether traumatic experiences were associated with white matter hyperintensities (WMHs), which are markers of brain small vessel disease which can lead to stroke and other ...
- Research links sexual assault to later brain damage in womenon September 22, 2021 at 10:48 am
a sign of a small vessel disease with links to stroke, dementia, overall cognitive decline and mortality. Out of the study’s participants, 68 percent said they had experienced some form of ...
- Sexual assault tied to later brain damage in women, study sayson September 22, 2021 at 9:39 am
The new study is the latest in a growing body of research about the long-term impact of sexual assault on the body and mind.
- Can a sexual assault jeopardize a woman's brain health?on September 22, 2021 at 4:03 am
To date, little research has been done relative to the relationship between traumatic experiences (notably, sexual assault) and indicators of small vessel disease in the brain, which can lead to ...
- Sexual Assault in Women Tied to Increased Stroke, Dementia Riskon September 21, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Traumatic experiences, especially sexual assault, may put women at greater risk for poor brain health. In the Ms Brain study, middle-aged women with trauma exposure had a greater volume of white ...
- Sexual assault has long-term effect on women's brain health, study showson September 21, 2021 at 5:00 pm
These markers of brain small vessel disease can serve as early markers of dementia, stroke and other disorders. They can be detected decades before the onset of these conditions. The study ...
- Vascular dementia 101: Symptoms, causes, risks & treatmenton September 15, 2021 at 2:42 am
Milder cases of vascular dementia are often attributed to small vessel disease that causes injuries, known as lesions, in the white matter of the brain. In severe cases of vascular dementia ...
via Bing News