Posted on Oct 10, 2019, 7 p.m.
An anticoagulant used to prevent formation of clots in people at risk of stroke may help to delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease, according to animal studies from the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculare and the Rockefeller University.
One year treatment period with the known anticoagulant resulted in no memory loss and no reduction in cerebral blood flow in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
"This discovery marks an important advance toward the translation of our results to clinical practice to achieve an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease," says Marta Cortés Canteli, Ph.D.
The researchers bioengineered female mice to become more prone to developing AD like symptoms later in life; these mice and a control group were either given a placebo or dabigatran etexilate which was mixed with regular chow for a year; animals in the treatment group received an average dose of 60mg of dabigatran per kg of body weight over 24 hours.
Mice receiving the treatment for a year developed no memory loss and maintained normal cerebral blood flow; and a significant reduction in typical biological markers of AD was found in these mice. A 23.7% reduction in the extent of amyloid plaques, a 31.3% reduction in aggressive phagocytic microglia immune brain cells, and 32.2% reduction in immune infiltrated T-cells was seen in the treatment group mice; reductions indicate lower rates of inflammation and blood vessel injury in the brain, as well as less protein buildup that would disrupt normal communication between brain cells.
"Winning the battle against Alzheimer's disease will require individualized combination therapy targeting the various processes that contribute to this disease," notes Cortés Canteli. "One goal is to improve the cerebral circulation, and our study shows that treatment with oral anticoagulants has the potential to be an effective approach in Alzheimer patients with a tendency to coagulation," she adds.
What makes this an appealing potential new treatment for this brain wasting disease which currently has no cure is that dabigatran is already approved as a treatment for other conditions and health events, and this anticoagulant is reported to have fewer side effects that others of its kind.
"An individualized treatment strategy such as this will first require the development of a diagnostic tool to identify those Alzheimer patients with a tendency to coagulation. This will be an important line of research in the coming years." says Marta Cortés Canteli, Ph.D.
"Neurodegenerative diseases are very closely linked to disease in the cerebral blood vessels," lead author and general director of CNIC Dr. Valentín Fuster notes. "The study of the links between the brain and heart is the major challenge for the next 10 years," he predicts.
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