Alzheimer’s is an aggressive neurodegenerative disease, which lacks any effective clinical treatment to this day. Attempts to get to the bottom of the disease have been made; however, no unified explanation for Alzheimer’s related dementia exists.
Accumulation of amyloid beta (Aβ) plaques is amongst the most common scientific explanations for the disease, since Aβs are thought to be toxic to the brain; cognitive dysfunction and memory loss, which are characteristic to Alzheimer’s, correlate with accumulation of these peptides. However, treatments based on the amyloid cascade have yet yielded no satisfactory results.
A study published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy discusses accumulating evidence of angiogenesis – generation of new blood vessels within the brain – as a common etiological factor in different Alzheimer’s scenarios, and suggests a previously underappreciated vaccine, associated with decrease in brain vasculature, could be beneficial in reversing some of the degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s.
Angiogenesis is a natural renewal process, stimulated through inflammatory pathways in the brain, such as those activated in response to oxidative stress and hypoxic shock, and promotes recovery of the central nervous system (CNS) after dramatic events, such as stroke or even brain tumors. Some pathogenic processes, however, have adapted to utilize body’s innate machinery for abnormal development, such as carcinogenesis.
The scientists now suggest that accumulation of Aβ plaques in Alzheimer’s causes hypervascularization of the brain, similar to that seen in tumors. This results in impaired blood flow to the CNS and disruption of the blood brain barrier, leading to inefficient clearance of the blood and further accumulation of neurotoxic substances.
This mechanism may provide a long pursued explanation of the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s and lead to innovative treatment strategies in the near future due to high occurrence among clinical cases.