Trials on Mice Show Aspirin Could Prevent Alzheimer’s

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If only an aspirin could keep Alzheimer’s away, we’d simply make this disease history. And a new study found that aspirin could be the answer to treat the devastating brain disease.

Scientists found in a study done in mice that aspirin works with subcellular machinery in the brain and it helps prevent amyloid plaque, which is the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

The experiments on mice found that aspirin could improve the ability of lysosomes – which stop amyloid plaque from forming and can also clear it. The researchers believe that the same effect should work on the human form of Alzheimer’s, and they published the findings on 2 July in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, and the progression of this disease can’t be successfully slowed by medications.

Aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid, is a cheap medicine that’s been around for a century. It’s safe to use in low doses, having small risks of stomach irritation or internal bleeding. Many adults use it in low doses daily as a mild blood thinner to prevent heart attacks.

Previous studies on different populations showed that aspirin used for heart health could modestly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Aspirin and Alzheimer’s Disease

Already knowing about the possible link between aspirin and prevention of Alzheimer’s, Rush University Medical Center (Chicago) researchers experimented with mice to check if the connection is true. They gave aspirin to mice that suffered from a mouse version of Alzheimer’s. Separately, they applied aspirin to mouse brain cells that the researchers grew in the lab.

In vivo and in vitro approaches showed that the biological signs of Alzheimer’s disease were prevented and reversed, said professor of neurological sciences Kalipada Pahan and leader of the study.

Pahan explained that aspirin activates PPARα (a cellular receptor), which regulates a protein – TFEB (that deals with lysosomal activity). So, aspirin helps cells tidy up cellular debris, and that includes the proteins that form amyloid plaque.

“We expect to see similar results in human brain cells,” Pahan concluded.

He said that aspirin is the safest way, and with few side effects to target TFEB. However, he explains that it shouldn’t be taken casually to treat or prevent Alzheimer’s. He said that only people with a sufficient number of PPARα receptors could benefit from the use of aspirin, and this is why many population-wide studies had mixed results on aspirin effects on TFEB.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere