Does Alzheimer's Begin in the Liver?

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

Have we been looking in the wrong place?  After all the years of studying the brain, could it actually be the liver that holds the root cause of Alzheimer's disease? 

This intriguing question has been raised by a recent publication in The Journal of Neuroscience Research.  The study, conducted by a joint team of researchers from Scripps Research Institute and Modgene, LLC, showed an interesting result in mice.  The study found a high correlation between the accumulation of liver-based, messenger RNA, expressed for genes known to correlate with early onset Alzheimer's disease, and susceptibility to the disease.  This suggests that some process outside of the brain, might be responsible for triggering the complex cascade of Alzheimer's pathology.

Importantly, a drug shown to reduce the amount of amyloid in the blood stream, also showed a reduction of amyloid in the brain.  That would not be surprising, except for the fact that the chosen drug does not pass easily through the blood/brain barrier.  Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that amyloid load in the blood may be an important driver of higher amyloid levels in the brain.

This differs from the current understanding that amyloid plaques in the brain are formed from amyloid that was produced in the brain.  In fact, most research on Alzheimer's treatments has been focused on reducing amyloid production in the brain, or clearing amyloid from the brain.  The demonstration that amyloid may arrive in the brain from other parts of the body, may be the most important aspect of this exciting new research.

As is often the case with such novel findings, this is very early stage work that will require years of additional validation and refinement before meaningful conclusions can be drawn.  However, it is an intriguing approach, and it expands our general scientific view of potentially effective avenues to treatment.

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  1. Dennis,

    You are right. This is a very intriguing concept. I will continue to watch it as research progresses. thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    Carole Larkin

  2. Lots of us are concentrating on getting our liver cleaned up and this idea suggesting that a reduction in the possibility of Alzheimers would be another reason to continue?

  3. To anonymous: While I think that a "clean" liver is likely to have many health benefits that are not yet will understood, I don't think we could yet infer a reduced risk for Alzheimer's from the study cited in this article.

  4. Any Tauist would agree with me in this statement: beta amyloid plaques have not been proven as the definitive cause of AD. ABeta is only a piece of the puzzle as we understand AD today.
    However, liver health is something that most of us ignore and should address.

  5. Good point by Dr. Ken Romeo...all rational scientists, including those who support the amyloid hypothesis, would agree that amyloid plaques have not been proven as the definitive cause of AD. Not by a long shot.