Researchers state that the chemical may help the immune system clear amyloid beta, a peptide that forms the plaques found in Alzheimer's disease.
The study was carried out by Dr. Milan Fiala, a researcher with the David Geffen School of Medicine and the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, and Dr. John Cashman, director of the Human BioMolecular Research Institute (HBRI) in San Diego.
Using blood samples from Alzheimer's disease patients they found that bisdemethoxycurcumin boosted immune cells called macrophages to clear amyloid beta.
In addition, researchers identified the immune genes associated with this activity.The study is important as it provides more insight into the role of the immune system in Alzheimer's disease and points to a new treatment approach.
Researchers say that it may be possible to test a patient's immune response with a blood sample in order to individualize treatment. The genes involved in the process, called MGAT III and Toll-like receptors, are also responsible for a number of other key functions in the immune system.
The results also suggest a new drug development approach for the disease that differs from the amyloid-beta vaccine. The new approach relies on the innate immune system, which is present at birth rather than on antibodies produced by B cells, which is a later developed part of the active immune system.