Study examines how the protein TREM2 influences Alzheimer’s disease

In previous studies, researchers determined that loss-of-function mutations in the protein TREM2 significantly heightens the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In a new study, published in Science Translational Medicine, researchers examined how TREM2 may positively influence the neurodegenerative disease. They found that higher concentrations of TREM2 in cerebrospinal fluid may decrease cognitive decline associated with the disease.

The study was led by a group of researchers at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research at the University Hospital of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität.

For the study, researchers monitored the concentration of TREM2 in cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer’s and the disease’s progression. They analyzed the data of 385 participants from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative to identify any correlations between the disease’s progression and particular biochemical changes. Among the participants included cognitively healthy controls, along with patients diagnosed suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia.

According to the findings, researchers discovered a correlation between higher concentrations of TREM2 in cerebrospinal fluid and reduce memory impairment among the participants with MCI and dementia. The increased levels of the protein improved the prognosis of the participants in all stages of the disease.

“Our findings are clinically relevant because we found that higher levels of TREM2 were associated also with a reduced rate of the development of full blown dementia over a time period up to 11 years,” researchers stated.

“These results suggest that sTREM2 is associated with attenuated cognitive and clinical decline, a finding with important implications for future clinical trials targeting the innate immune response in AD.”