Stress May Increase Levels of Alzheimer's Protein

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A hormone released by the brain in response to stress boosts production of a protein associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Todd Golde, PhD, of the Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of Florida, and colleagues analyzed the brains of mice who were subjected to acute stress, and compared them with mice who were not stressed.

The stressed mice had more toxic beta-amyloid protein in their brains than the non-stressed mice, the researchers reported in The EMBO Journal. Beta-amyloid is known to clump together into plaques, interrupting brain cell communication.  

They also found that stress leads to corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF), a hormone, to be released in the brain. This, in turn, boosts the activity of gamma secretase, an enzyme, which increases production of beta-amyloid.

“These data collectively link CRF to increased beta-amyloid through gamma secretase and provide mechanistic insight into how stress may increase [Alzheimer’s disease] risk,” say the authors.

The findings may point to a new treatment strategy of  targeting CRF with an antibody to decrease the amount of stress hormone and, in turn, reduce beta-amyloid production. However, the researchers admit this approach will be challenging.

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Stressed mice had more toxic beta-amyloid protein in their brains than the non-stressed mice.

Previous research has linked stress with increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, but the mechanisms underlying this association have been unclear. Now, researchers from the University of Florida believe they are one step closer to an explanation.

Researchers say stress triggers the release of a hormone that boosts production of a protein in the brain that is involved in the development of Alzheimer's.

In a study published in The EMBO Journal, Dr. Todd Golde, director of the Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of Florida, and colleagues describe how a hormone released by the brain in response to stress increases production of a protein associated with Alzheimer's development.

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