Alzheimer's: Anti-inflammatory drugs show promise in mice

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Director Dr. Linda Van Eldik in the laboratoryShare on Pinterest
Pictured, University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Director Dr. Linda Van Eldik, on March 14, 2019. Dr. Van Eldik is the co-author of a new study on anti-inflammatory drugs and Alzheimer’s. Image credit: Mark Cornelison, University of Kentucky Photo
  • New research highlights the potential of anti-inflammatory drugs, specifically p38 inhibitors, as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Scientists at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging focused on the protein p38, which is being studied by various labs for its role in neuroinflammatory dysfunction.
  • By genetically suppressing p38 production in microglia, immune cells in the brain, the researchers observed a decrease in the number of microglia near amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
  • These findings suggest that early inhibition of p38 could impact the interaction between brain immune cells and Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

To understand how blocking the production of p38 protein could help with Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers conducted tests on an early-stage mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.

In this new study, published in PLOS ONE, the researchers used genetic techniques to stop the production of p38 in a specific type of immune cell found in the brain called microglia.

The researchers wanted to see if this intervention could change the way amyloid plaques, which are a key feature of Alzheimer’s, develop in the brain.

Certain types of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as p38 inhibitors, are being developed as potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. These drugs have shown promising results in Health">recent clinical trials involving human participants.

However, there are still questions to be answered, for example, when exactly during the progression of Alzheimer’s disease these p38 inhibitors should be administered to be most effective.

It would also be important to determine whether long-term suppression of p38 could have any negative effects on the body, although early results suggest that it does not seem to cause any noticeable harmful effects.

The findings from the research suggest that early use of p38 inhibitors may be able to change how immune cells in the brain interact with Alzheimer’s disease-related changes.

Dr. Santosh Kesari, a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, and regional medical director for the Research Clinical Institute of Providence Southern California, not involved in this research, told Medical News Today that “inflammation is thought to play a role in neurodegenerative disorders and this article tested whether p38 protein in brain microglia is involved in Alzheimer’s pathology in a mouse model.”

“Microglia p38 modulates in immune responses in brain pathologies. The authors knocked out p38 in microglial specifically to see how it affected behavioral and pathological changes in [an] amyloid Alzheimer’s model,” Dr. Kesari explained.

“Interestingly, the p38 loss in microglia did not alter behavioral outcomes, information levels, or amyloid plaque levels despite increase in levels of [beta-amyloid-42] and distribution of microglial around plaques.”

– Santosh Kesari

Dr. Raymond J. Tesi, CEO and chief medical officer at INmune Bio, also not involved in the study, also reviewed the findings for MNT, saying that his “conclusion is that blocking the p38a pathway in this animal model did not have any effect on cognitive function.”

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