A new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that regular intake of low-dose aspirin may prevent Alzheimer’s pathology from forming in the brain and protect the memory of those living with this form of dementia.
If replicated in humans, the results of the new research will lead to the use of aspirin as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that affects 1 in 65 seniors in the United States, is characterized by a toxic buildup of a “sticky” protein fragment called beta-amyloid in the brain.
The protein aggregates in “clumps” that break down the communication between brain cells.
This will trigger the brain’s immune cells, which cause inflammation, eventually leading to the degeneration and death of neurons.
Although the precise cause of Alzheimer’s remains unknown, the “amyloid hypothesis” holds that this accumulation of amyloid is the primary cause.
A consequence that would flow naturally from the theory above is that activating or boosting the brain mechanisms for clearing up cellular waste should slow the progression of the disease.
In fact, some studies have suggested that malfunctioning lysosomes — the “garbage disposals of the cell” — are the reason why amyloid beta builds up in the first place. Other studies point to an association between aspirin use and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s.
New research ties these two pieces of evidence together and reveals that aspirin stimulates the waste-clearing lysosomes and reduces pathological plaque in mice.
Dr. Kalipada Pahan, the Endowed Chair of Neurology and a professor of neurological sciences, biochemistry, and pharmacology at the Rush Medical College in Chicago, IL, led this study.