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Oxygen link to Alzheimer's

22nd November 2006

04042006_old_woman_window_400.jpgResearchers have found a possible link between the wide variety of risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study carried out in Canada.

A research team led by Weihong Song at the University of British Columbia carried out experiments on mice in which the amount of oxygen available to them was limited to less than 40% of what they would normally use.

A control group of mice was kept in normal conditions. Both groups were specially engineered to develop Alzheimer's-like plaques.

At the end of six months, the oxygen-deprived mice had developed twice as many beta-amyloid plaques, which denote Alzheimer's disease, as the control group.

Previous studies have shown that diabetes, stroke, clogged arteries and ageing all increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Only 5% of cases appear to have been strongly influenced by genetic factors.

Song’s team found that oxygen deprivation triggers a greater activation of the BACE1 gene, which is responsible for producing beta-amyloid plaques, which eventually cause the death of neurons, or brain cells.

Drugs called vasodilators, which enlarge the blood vessels, and get more oxygenated blood to the brain, may help people stave off Alzheimer's, according to Song.

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Article Information

Title: Oxygen link to Alzheimer's
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 1225
Date Added: 22nd Nov 2006


New Scientist

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