Immune System DNA Linked to Memory

Alzheimer's disease and memory declines with age were linked to immune system function

(RxWiki News) For the first time in humans, researchers have shown that there is a link between the immune system and age-related memory decline.

In mice, low levels of a certain immune system factor is associated with Alzheimer’s-like memory problems.

This new research in humans shows that this immune system factor is linked with poor memory in elderly people.

This immune system link may present a new avenue for treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.

"Talk to your doctor about any memory problems."

Previous research has shown that mice lacking in a protein called CCR2, which is a receptor that is part of the immune system, developed severe and quickly progressing Alzheimer’s type memory problems.

Lorna W. Harries, PhD, of the Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Exeter, and colleagues sought to see if CCR2 was an important factor for human cognition.

They looked at the genes of 691 elderly people and their scores on a standard cognitive test. They also looked at the way cognitive test score changed over a nine year period.

They found that expression of the CCR2 gene in the people studied was linked with poor scores on the cognitive test and with declining memory over the nine year study period.

CCR2 is thought to be an immune system factor that fights against beta amyloid build-up and important for neuron growth.

The researchers concluded that linking CCR2 to memory in humans is a big step toward understanding how the immune system may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Future treatments for Alzheimer’s disease could target this process.

More research is needed to determine if this will be an avenue for treatment.

The study was published in May in Rejuvenation Research.

Review Date: 
June 9, 2012