Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 17th 2015 Contents A28
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, April 17, 2015
Tweaking the brain s immune system
with a drug has prevented mice devel-
oping dementia, a study shows.
The team at Duke University, in the
US, showed immune cells which start
attacking nutrients in the brain may be
a trigger for the disease.
They say their findings could open
up new avenues of research for a field
that has not developed a single drug to
slow the progression of the disease.
Experts said the findings offered new
hope of a treatment.
The researchers indentified microglia
---normally the first line of defence
against infection in the brain - as major
players in the development of demen-
tia.They found some microglia changed
to become exceptionally adept at break-
ing down a component of protein, an
amino acid called arginine, in the early
stages of the disease.
As arginine levels plummeted, the
immune cells appeared to dampened
the immune system in the brain.
In mouse experiments, a chemical
was used to block the enzymes that
break down arginine.
They showed fewer of the character-
istics of dementia such as damaged pro-
teins collecting in the brain and the ani-
mals performed better in memory tests.
One of the researchers, Dr Matthew
Kan, said: "All of this suggests to us that
if you can block this local process of
amino acid deprivation, then you can
protect the mouse, at least from
Alzheimer s disease.
"We see this study opening the doors
to thinking about Alzheimer s in a com-
pletely different way, to break the stale-
mate of ideas in Alzheimer s disease."
However, the findings do not suggest
that arginine supplements could combat
dementia as the boosted levels would
still be broken down.
Dr James Pickett, from the Alzheimer s
Society said the study was "offering
hope that these findings could lead to
new treatments for dementia".
He added: "This study in animals
joins some of the dots in our incomplete
understanding of the processes that cause
Alzheimer s disease, in particular around
the role played by the immune system."
Dr Laura Phipps, from Alzheimer s
Research UK, said the study was "inter-
esting" and shed "more light on the
mechanisms of immune system involve-
ment in Alzheimer s".
But she cautioned clinical trials in
people were still needed and that "the
findings do not suggest that supple-
mentation of the amino acid could mirror
the benefits seen in these mice". (BBC)
Divorcees are more likely to have a
heart attack than their peers who stay
married, US research suggests.
An analysis of 15,827 people showed
women were worst affected, and barely
reduced the risk if they remarried.
The study, published in the journal
Circulation, argued that chronic stress,
linked to divorce, had a long-term
impact on the body.
The British Heart Foundation called
for more research before divorce is
classed as a major heart risk.
We already know that the death of
a close loved one can greatly increase
the risk of a heart attack. Now a team
at Duke University has shown a similar
effect after divorce.
During the course of the study,
between 1992 and 2010, roughly one
in three people divorced at least once.
Women who divorced once were 24
per cent more likely to have had a heart
attack in the study than women who
were continuously married. The figure
was 77 per cent for those having mul-
In men, there was a modest ten per
cent extra risk for one divorce and 30
per cent increase after multiple divorces.
One of the researchers Prof Linda
George said: "This risk is comparable
to that of high blood pressure or if you
have diabetes, so it s right up there, it
is pretty big."
When it came to remarriage, the risk
was only marginally reduced for women
while men bounced back.
"I think this is the most interesting
bit in the paper," Prof George added.
She told the BBC News Web site:
"We joke around here and call it the
any-women-will-do orientation for
"They re more comfortable being
married than not married and cope
with different women being their
"First marriages are protective for
women and it s a little dicey after that."
The researchers found that changes
in lifestyle, such as loss of income,
could not explain the heightened risk.
Prof George told the BBC News Web
site: "My educated speculation is that
we know that psychological distress is
a constant stress on the immune sys-
tem, higher levels of inflammation and
stress hormones increase.
"Immune function is altered for the
worse and if that continues for many
years it does take a physiological toll."
She argues the sex-difference is also
found in depression and that divorce
is a greater "psychological burden" for
women although "we don t know
exactly what s going on."
While tablets can reduce the risks
caused by high blood pressure, there
is no easy solution for the pain of
divorce. The researchers recommend
close, supportive friends.
Prof Jeremy Pearson, from the British
Heart Foundation, commented: "We
have known for some time that our
mental health can affect our heart
"This study suggests that divorce
might increase a person s risk of a heart
attack. But the results are not definitive
so further evidence would be needed
before divorce could be considered a
significant risk factor for causing a heart
more heart attacks'
A study at Duke
divorced once were
24 per cent more
likely to have had a
heart attack in the
study than women
married. In men,
there was a modest
ten per cent extra
risk for one divorce
and 30 per cent
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Dementia 'halted in mice brains'
Links Archive April 16th 2015 April 18th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page