Arthritis may prevent memory loss? Posted by Dr. Humeira Badsha
Scientists believe that production of a protein, known as GM-CSF, may be the reason rheumatoid arthritis appears to protect against the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system goes haywire and proteins that attack the body are produced, including GM-CSF. It had been thought that the protective effect was the result of rheumatoid arthritis patients taking NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) but results of a study published in the August 2010 Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease point to GM-CSF.
In the study, mice were genetically-altered to have memory problems like those in Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers then treated the genetically-altered mice and some of the healthy mice with GM-CSF. Other mice, some healthy and some with Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, were given placebo. By the end of the 20-day study, the mice with Alzheimer’s symptoms treated with GM-CSF performed better on memory and learning tests than mice not treated with GM-CSF — similar to the level of mice that were not genetically-altered to have the condition. Genetically-altered mice that received placebo performed poorly on the tests.
Researchers have suggested GM-CSF may draw microglia from the peripheral blood supply into the brain to remove Alzheimer’s plaques. GM-CSF-treated Alzheimer’s mice had a 50% decrease in beta amyloid — the substance that forms Alzheimer’s plaques.