In a new study by University of Pennsylvania Medical Center researchers, free-radical activity was found to be roughly doubled in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brains of people who had died of Alzheimer's disease when compared to the same regions of normal brains.
Additionally, the frontal and temporal lobes were the only parts of the brains where the levels of two recently identified biochemical markers of free-radical tissue damage were seen to be elevated. This is an important observation because these two areas of the brain, critical for memory and intellectual function, are the ones most affected by the disease. A report on the new findings appears in the December issue of the FASEB Journal.
"The strength of what we found was that, firstly, these markers were elevated only in the affected parts of the brains of people who died of Alzheimer's disease," says Garret A. FitzGerald, MD, chairman of the department pharmacology and senior author on the report. "And, secondly, the markers were not elevated in the same parts of the brains of people who died of other causes. This suggests that what we're looking at are sensitive, quantitative indicators of disease activity."
The most abundant of the two markers was also found to be significantly elevated in the cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF. The importance of this finding is that the CSF is a relatively accessible body fluid, so that extensions of the current work into living patients presumed to have Alzheimer's disease will be possible. Indeed, such studies have already begun at Penn. Likely to emerge from these investigations will be more accurate methods for disease diagnosis, improved assessments of drugs against the disease, and a clearer overall picture of the disease process.
For example, results from epidemiological studies suggest that
anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen) and antioxidant compounds (e.g.,
vitamin E) both offer some protection ag
Contact: Franklin Hoke
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine