A recent Canadian study showed that white blood cells in the human brain are regulated by a protein that protects against Alzheimer’s disease, a discovery that paves the way for the development of new treatments for the disease.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta, Canada, and published its findings in the latest issue of the journal Communications Biology scientific.
The researchers explained that immune cells in the brain, called microglia, play an important role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
The microglia is one of the types of glia cells found in the brain and spinal cord. This cell is the first line of immune defense in the central nervous system, as it plays the role of resident macrophages.
Small glial cells are the cornerstone of protecting the brain, as it cleans it of unnecessary neurons and connections, dead cells and infection continuously, and the processes they perform are extremely important in protecting the brain from any fatal damage.
In their new study, the researchers identified a protein called CD33, found on small glial cells, as a factor that might reduce a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The team found that less than 10% of the population had a copy of the CD33 protein, which made them less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
“The presence of CD33 protein on small glial cells suggests that immune cells can protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Matthew Macaulay, researcher involved in the study.He added that their study showed that “CD33 protein plays an important role in modifying the function of microglia, and these results pave the way for future testing of the causal relationship between this protein and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as testing treatment strategies to activate the role of microglia in protecting the brain.”
Macaulay noted that “CD33 protein plays an active role in inducing glial cells to cleanse the brain of plaque degeneration, in a process called phagocytosis, and this process contributes to slowing the risk of Alzheimer’s infection.”
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and leads to a continuous deterioration of thinking capabilities, brain functions, and memory loss.
The disease progressively develops into a loss of the ability to do daily activities and to communicate with the environment, and the condition may deteriorate to the point of lack of functionality.