In February 2019, Dr. Jean Cruz Hernandez et. al. released the results of a study entitled Neutrophil adhesion in brain capillaries reduces cortical blood flow and impairs memory function in Alzheimer’s disease mouse models. Funded by Cornell University, the research showed what disrupts blood flow in brains of patients with Alzheimer’s. Using their mouse models, the team identified neutrophils obstruct capillaries in the brain.
White Blood Cells Clog Capillaries
Co-author Nozomi Nishimura explained the scientists initially intended to induce blockage, only to find such has already taken place in the blood vessels. Further examination revealed neutrophils got stuck in the capillaries, which then interferes with the flow of oxygenated blood in the brain. What followed afterwards was impaired cognitive performance. The team presumes people adapt to the decreased blood flow, producing minimal manifestation of the symptoms.
The Connection Between Vascular Health and Alzheimer’s Disease
A related paper entitled Vascular dysfunction —The disregarded partner of Alzheimer’s disease suggests incorporating vascular biomarkers in the scientific framework. The National Institute on Aging–Alzheimer’s Association currently focuses on amyloid, tau, and neuronal injury biomarkers. Researchers Dr. Sweeney et al. hypothesize this aids in early detection of Alzheimer’s. Therefore, Dr. Hernandez’s conclusion confirms the hypothesis that vascular dysfunctions play a role in the initiation and progression of the disease.
A New Hope for a Cure
Alzheimer’s accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases and is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. Treatment procedures have advanced but studies are yet to successfully treat the disease. The discovery of the blocked blood vessels contributes to treatment methods and drug administration practices. At the time of writing, Hernandez’s team are testing twenty FDA-approved drugs that improve blood flow and restore patients’ cognitive functions.
These discoveries provide novel opportunities in understanding Alzheimer’s pathophysiology better. Their findings help in developing a comprehensive plan for earlier detection and better treatment.