Alzheimer’s disease may be combated by improving blood vessel health in the brain

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A build-up of amyloid-beta in the brain is, by theory, a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease among older adults. In a recent study, a team of researchers determined how such accumulation could be prevented and even treated.

According to the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Neuron, improving blood vessel health in the brain may be a new route for combating the neurodegenerative disease.

The study focused on vasomotion, slow vessel pulsations associated with the clearance of substances from the brain, possibly affecting the accumulation of amyloid-beta. Such protein fragments are considered a hallmark sign for Alzheimer’s disease, based on countless studies targeting neurodegeneration.

For the study, researchers administered to rodents dextran, a fluorescently labeled carbohydrate, initiating imaging tests thereafter.

Upon evaluating the findings, researchers quickly noticed something aberrant: Vasomotion was detrimental in clearing dextran from the brain. Also, vessel pulsations were inhibited and clearance rates abated in rodents with cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

“Vasomotion correlated with paravascular clearance of fluorescent dextran from the interstitial fluid,” Susanne van Veluw, co-author of the study, explained.

“Increasing the amplitude of vasomotion by means of visually evoked vascular responses resulted in increased clearance rates in the visual cortex of awake mice. Evoked vascular reactivity was impaired in mice with CAA, which corresponded to slower clearance rates.”

Overall, the findings bring new light on how maintaining healthy vasculature may be beneficial for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our findings highlight the importance of the vasculature in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease.”

“If we direct therapeutic strategies towards promoting healthy vasculature and therefore improve clearance of amyloid-beta from the brain, we may be able to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the future.”