Scientists in the US have discovered evidence to suggest the proteins present in patients with Alzheimer's disease damage blood vessels as well as attacking neurons in the brain.
The team from Weill Cornell Medical College conducted a study into the condition and the role played by amyloid peptides. Their research is published in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
In recent years it has been speculated widely that damage to blood vessels feeding the brain is a contributory factor in the progression of Alzheimer's disease, but this is the first investigation to provide evidence as to why this is.
If the vessels become damaged, they are unable to provide the brain with the oxygen and nutrients it requires to function properly.
Dr Costantino Iadecola, who led the study, said: "Our findings strongly suggest that amyloid, in addition to damaging neurons, also threatens the cerebral blood supply and increases the brain's susceptibility to damage through oxygen deprivation."
It is now hoped scientists can build on this research to produce treatments that prevent the vessels becoming impaired.
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