Iron levels in brain predict when people will get Alzheimer's

日期:2019-02-28 01:11:05 作者:仉尬夺 阅读:

DOES this qualify as irony? We need iron to be healthy – but too much could bring on Alzheimer’s. We still don’t know the cause of this form of dementia. The main suspect is a protein called beta-amyloid that forms plaques in the brain, but drugs that dissolve it don’t result in people improving. Studies have suggested that people with Alzheimer’s also have higher iron levels in their brains. Now it seems that high iron may hasten the disease’s onset. Researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia followed 144 older people who had mild cognitive impairment for seven years. To gauge how much iron was in their brains, they measured ferritin, a protein that binds to the metal, in their cerebrospinal fluid. For every nanogram per millilitre people had at the start of the study, they were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s on average three months earlier. The team also found that the biggest risk gene for Alzheimer’s, ApoE4, was strongly linked with higher iron, suggesting this is why having it makes you more at risk. Iron is highly reactive so it probably subjects neurons to chemical stress, says team member Scott Ayton. The finding alone doesn’t prove that reducing iron levels would cut people’s risk, says Ayton. But a trial of a drug that does this, carried out 24 years ago, suggests it’s worth investigating. The drug halved the rate of Alzheimer’s cognitive decline but was overlooked when the beta-amyloid theory of the disease became dominant (Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7760). This article appeared in print under the headline “When it comes to Alzheimer’s, iron may not be good ferrous” More on these topics: