A team of researchers has found a link between stress and Alzheimer’s disease. University of Florida Health research, conducted on a mouse model and in human cells, found that a stress-coping hormone released by the brain boosts the production of protein fragments.
Those protein pieces, known as amyloid beta, clump together and trigger the brain degeneration that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.
The research contributes to further understanding the potential relationship between stress and Alzheimer’s disease, a disorder believed to stem from a mix of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. The findings strengthen the idea of a link between stress and Alzheimer’s disease, researcher Todd Golde said.
Golde noted that it adds detailed insight into the stress mechanisms that might promote at least one of the Alzheimer’s pathologies.
Figuring out the non-genetic factors that heighten the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is especially challenging, and the recent study is one step in a long process of looking at the effects of stress and other environmental factors, according to Golde. It could also point the way to a novel treatment approach in the future, he said.
Here is what researchers found: Stress causes the release of a hormone called corticotrophin releasing factor, or CRF, in the brain. That, in turn, increases production of amyloid beta. As amyloid beta collects in the brain, it initiates a complex degenerative cascade that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.
The study is published in The EMBO Journal.