Early accumulation of a small protein, known as amyloid beta, in the blood vessels of the brain can drive early cognitive impairment, a team of researchers has discovered.
The findings by Stony Brook University researchers suggested that targeting early buildup of amyloid in brain blood vessels could be a potential treatment strategy in early stage disease.
When amyloid accumulates and aggregates in the Alzheimer's disease process, amyloid deposits as either structures known as amyloid plaques around neuronal cells or deposits of amyloid in the blood vessels of the brain.
The team, led by William Van Nostrand, compared two disease models - one that developed amyloid plaques and the other that developed cerebral blood vessel amyloid.
The team assessed cognitive abilities at intervals and found that at three months, the model with brain blood vessel amyloid were cognitively impaired but the model with amyloid plaques were not cognitively impaired.
"Our results are intriguing because it appears cerebrovascular amyloid rather than amyloid plaques around neuronal cells is an early influence on cognitive decline," Dr. Van Nostrand said. "This opens the door to continued investigation on the role of amyloid on brain blood vessels in the Alzheimer's disease process and could be a first step toward developing more effective treatment targets for the onset of amyloid-associated cognitive impairment based on this particular type of amyloid buildup and associated pathologies."
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.