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Stress linked to Alzheimer's

5th June 2007

Following research which showed stress increased a brain peptide linked to Alzheimer's disease, scientists have demonstrated that blocking a different peptide can slow the stress-induced increase in peptides.

This points to a potential new treatment for the disease.

Peptides or amyloid beta, are what make up the brain plaques which are linked to memory loss and other symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

To test the relationship between stress and plaque build-up, mice were exposed to stress in the form of smaller cages and isolation.

It was found that restraining the mice for three hours increased amyloid beta levels in the brain by 30 per cent.

Gretchen Jones, a neurologist, said: "Stress remarkably elevated soluble amyloid beta levels in the spaces between brain cells."

John Holtzman, an associate in neurology and psychiatry, said: "There are very few known environmental risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. Head trauma increases risk, higher education lowers it. Stress may be another environmental factor that increases risk."