Evidence has shown that Alzheimer’s disease is closely linked to inflammation and infections.
As a result, the Alzheimer’s Society has given the University of Exeter a grant to research the role of infections and inflammation in the brain of a person with the disease.
The Associate Professor of Epigenetics at the University of Exeter Medical School, Professor Katie Lunnon said, “Systemic infections, like pneumonia or a urinary tract infection, are associated with the onset of dementia, a faster rate of cognitive decline, and the increased risk of death in those living with dementia.
“Understanding the role of inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease is of utmost importance if we are to treat the disease more effectively.”
Epigenetic processes are chemical tags added to DNA. They turn genes on and off, and can be affected by environment and other external factors.
Recently, Professor Lunnon’s group has proven that epigenetic changes are more abundant in the genes of Alzheimer patients.
With the £361,000 grant, the group will now investigate if inflammation in the body causes epigenetic changes in the brain’s immune cells.
If their findings are positive, it can only mean that inflammation in the body changes the functions of the brain’s immune cells long term and turns to excessive inflammation, further damaging the nerve cells.