Brain protein could be preventive measure against Alzheimer’s, new study suggests

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As effective treatments for Alzheimer’s continue to elude the medical community, new research from Iowa State University has shed light onto a particular protein and how it can predict the likelihood of someone developing Alzheimer’s.

A study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, suggests that there is a link between brain activity and the presence of NPTX2, a brain protein essential for building memories. The researchers found that high levels of the protein correlate with better memory and more brain volume, while lower levels of the protein were associated with loss of memory and less volume.

In the study, authors Auriel Wilette, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State, and Ashley Swanson, graduate research assistant at Iowa State, analyzed data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative to find which aspects of the immune system were most relevant to tracking Alzheimer’s disease progression.

They found that participants with more years of education has higher levels of the protein, meaning that people who have complex jobs and are active mentally and socially could have less problems with memory loss.

Ultimately, the protein could be used as a way for physicians to predict the progression of memory loss and brain atrophy in Alzheimer’s patients. Now researchers are looking for methods to boost NPTX2 levels, which could be explored in future studies.