HOUSTON, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Nearly 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, which affects their memory, language, and family relationships. Now, a blood marker called soluble CD14 is being studied as a potential tool in neurological disease.
Chronic inflammation in the body, caused by genetics, disease, or lifestyle is very damaging to cells, playing a role in vascular disease and dementia.
Sudha Seshadri, MD, professor of neurology at UT Health San Antonio explained to Ivanhoe, “We are increasingly recognizing that infection and inflammation play a role in neurodegeneration and vascular diseases.”
As this disease develops, inflammation is activating white blood cells, including the blood marker, CD14.
“Soluble CD14 is something that comes into the blood. Its role is to bind with bad things like bacterial toxins or other body-generated toxins like amyloid and help remove them,” elaborated Dr. Seshadri.
Scientists say this discovery of how CD14 clears toxins could be invaluable.
“The higher markers of soluble CD14 predicted a higher risk of developing dementias of all types,” Dr. Seshadri shared.
Matthew Pase, PhD, a study author at The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia explained, “There are multiple pathways that might lead to dementia and this is important as we move forward to develop these better drugs and better therapies that might help people avoid dementia into old age.”
In other words, it would give doctors the advantage in spotting dementia and treating it effectively either with medication or more effective activity-oriented intervention.
“I expect over the next five, six years, we’ll be able to provide more tools to people in primary care settings, to give targeted advice,” Dr. Seshadri stated.
The researchers studied dementia risk in nearly 4,000 participants from the Framingham Heart Study and the Cardiovascular Health Study. They say that a cost-effective blood-marker is greatly needed to track the progression of preclinical brain injury leading to dementia.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Donna Parker, Field Producer; Bruce Maniscalo, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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TOPIC: CD14: DIAGNOSING EARLY RISK OF DEMENTIA
REPORT: MB #4755
BACKGROUND: Dementia is an umbrella term, like heart disease, that covers a wide array of medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s. Disorders labeled under the term “dementia” are caused by abnormal brain changes which trigger a decline in thinking skills, also known as cognitive abilities, severe enough to impair daily life and independent function. These changes also affect behavior, feelings and relationships. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of cases. The second most common cause of dementia is vascular dementia, which occurs because of microscopic bleeding and blood vessel blockage in the brain. However, there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.
CURRENT STUDY FINDS PROMISE: A study of more than 4,700 participants from two large community-based heart studies was conducted and found an inflammatory marker called sCD14 is related to brain atrophy, cognitive decline and dementia. “The most exciting part is that we could assess this risk in advance, when there is ample time to intervene and change the course of a person’s life,” said study senior author Sudha Seshadri, MD, professor of neurology at UT Health San Antonio and director of the university’s Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases. Upon study enrollment, plasma sCD14 was measured in participants’ blood. In the Framingham group, brain MRI and cognitive testing were performed within one year after the blood draw for sCD14, and a second round of tests was performed after seven years. In the Cardiovascular Health Study, the first brain MRI was obtained three to four years after enrollment and a second round five years later. There are not yet any drug trials to see if lowering sCD14 levels would help cognition in humans. However, treatment with several targeted anti-inflammatory medications, like statins, can lower sCD14.
THE HEART AND HEAD CONNECTION: Brain health is said to be closely linked to heart and blood vessel health. Developing Alzheimer’s appears to increase as a result of many conditions that damage the heart or arteries, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol. Several studies are exploring how best to build on this heart and head connection. Researchers are investigating whether drugs like blood pressure medications now used to treat vascular disease may help people with Alzheimer’s or reduce the risk of developing the disease. Additional projects are looking closely at how the connection between heart disease and Alzheimer’s works at the molecular level to find new drug targets. And, lifestyle choices with known heart benefits, such as exercising and eating a heart-healthy diet, is being researched to see if it may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease or delay its onset.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS REPORT, PLEASE CONTACT:
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER AT SAN ANTONIO
FLOREY INSTITUTE AUSTRALIA
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