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Stress hormone could be a significant environmental factor responsible for Alzheimer's.

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Getting closer to understanding what causes Alzheimer's...

Alzheimer's disease is believed to stem from a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors, all of which contribute to the various pathologies associated with the aging disease. Now, new research indicates that a stress hormone may contribute to the production of amyloid-beta buildup in the brain. 

The findings, which were published in The EMBO Journal, could point to a definitive environmental factor responsible for Alzheimer's disease progression and could influence future treatment. 

"These softer, non-genetic factors that may confer risk of Alzheimer's disease are much harder to address," said researcher Todd E. Golde, MD, PhD. "But we need more novel approaches in the pipeline than we have now."

In a mouse model, researchers from the University of Florida found that acute stress caused the release of the hormone corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF), boosting activity of gamma secretase which increased the production of amyloid-beta. Mice exposed to acute stress were found to have more amyloid-beta buildup than those in a control group. Upon treating human neurons with CRF, the researchers observed a significant increase in amyloid production. 

Researchers attempted to modify the effect of stress by blocking the CRF receptor, however results were unsuccessful. They are now focusing on an antibody that can block the stress hormone directly.

Top Reddit comment:

So to lower the chances of Alzheimers: eat well, exercise, and reduce stress? I think these three things would help reduce the risk of many problematic health conditions.

The response points out that half of people over 85 have Alzheimer's:

There are many factors that go into alzheimers disease (AD), some of it cant be helped (the genetic component, late onset alzheimers is 60-80% according to twin studies) Another one not linked directly to the study but a news article with ~79% genetic risk, 95% CI of 68-88%

The biggest 2 are genetics and age. Mostly due to alleles known to confer risk of AD (ApoE is the big one, but there is also CLU, CR1 and PICALM known to change the amyloid beta protein into amyloid beta oligomers which result in the amyloid beta plaques)

Most sufferers of late onset AD are over the age of 65. Risk doubles every 5 years with 50% of people over the age of 85 having AD.

But yeah, apparently being healthy results in good health.

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