Through research in mice, it was found that an immune protein called C1q is involved in the process of creating and destroying synapses (a normal process in the developing brain). The characteristics of C1q also make it capable of accumulating on dead or dying cells. As C1q clings to synapses, a chain reaction occurs, and as more and more C1q accumulates, immune cells are triggered to ‘attack’ these areas. Previously, it was thought that loss of synapses triggers inflammation, but it may be the other way around.
Human and mouse brains that have been studied post-mortem show that C1q increases dramatically with age. This could explain why aging brains are vulnerable to neurodegenerative diseases, why kids are not affected. This new find gives researchers a better insight into the immune system’s function as it relates to aging diseases, and could point them in a new direction for a possible cure. Stay tuned… this will certainly be investigated further, and hopefully give scientists a better understanding of Alzheimer’s in human patients!
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