Published: Sat, January 26, 2019
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Sleep Deprivation Speeds Up Alzheimer's Disease

Sleep Deprivation Speeds Up Alzheimer's Disease

Scientist have found that toxic bacteria in gum disease can travel to the brain, which could raise the risk of developing Alzheimer's in later life.

Alzheimer's disease is widely believed to be caused by the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins which clump together to form plaques between neurons and disrupt cell function.

"The objective of the study is to know the predictive value of vascular changes in the blood brain barrier in predicting cognitive decline in people who have Alzheimer's disease".

They studied dead and living patients with diagnosed and suspected Alzheimer's and found bacteria associated with chronic gum disease in the brains of people with Alzheimer's, BBC News reported.

A team of scientists from the University of Louisville found P. gingivalis in the brains of deceased people who suffered from Alzheimer's. When researchers exposed the mice to a substance previously developed by Cortexyme that blocks the production of gum disease-related toxins, infection was reduced and protein plaque accumulation stopped.

Casey Lynch of Cortexyme was quoted as saying some brain samples with Alzheimer's showed the presence of the bacteria and the two proteins but at lower concentrations.

"In this paper, we have not only identified the epigenetic factors that contribute to the memory loss, we also found ways to temporarily reverse them in an animal model of Alzheimer's", said senior author Zhen Yan, PhD, a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. Gingipains were also shown to cause damage to Tau, another brain protein thought to be involved in the development of Alzheimer's.

The researchers who carried out the study mostly worked at Cortexyme, a private biotech company, with others working at Jagiellonian University in Poland, the University of California, University of Louisville School of Dentistry and Harvard University School of Dental Medicine in the USA, the University of Melbourne in Australia, and University of Auckland in New Zealand. COR388 showed positive trends across several cognitive tests in patients suffering from AD, and Cortexyme plans to initiate a Phase 2 and 3 clinical trial of COR388 in mild to moderate AD in 2019.

"Infectious agents have been implicated in the development and progression of Alzheimer's disease before, but the evidence of causation hasn't been convincing", Dominy says.

The bacteria may access the brain by infecting immune system cells or spreading through cranial nerves passing through the head and jaw, said the researchers.

The new study in humans and mice found that sleep deprivation increases levels of the key Alzheimer's protein tau.

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P. gingivalis infection was thought to fuel high levels of beta- amyloid that eventually became toxic.

The researchers hope a drug that inhibits the spread of P. gingivalis in the brain could slow the symptoms of the neurodegenerative disorder.

A poor night's sleep has always been linked with Alzheimer's disease which affects more than 500,000 people in Britain and 5.7 million Americans.

The bug was also shown rapidly to develop resistance against the broad-spectrum antibiotic moxifloxacin, but not to COR388.

He adds that although we don't yet know the extent to which it affects dementia risk, "maintaining good dental health is an important part of a healthy lifestyle".

The provocative findings are the latest in a wave of research suggesting microbial infections may play a role in Alzheimer's disease.

P. gingivalis can destroy gums and cause tooth loss.

In 2014, using a blood test that looked at 10 specific lipids in people's blood, researchers were also able to predict Alzheimer's before symptoms appeared.

Marzi, who was not involved in the research, said in an email to CNN that if "this result can be replicated in larger cohorts and more generally in sporadic cases of Alzheimer's Disease, the blood test for NfL would indeed be a promising biomarker or diagnostic tool".

"Despite the involvement of a virus, the [Alzheimer's] disease is apparently not contagious", she told Newsweek.

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