Link between chronic stress and Alzheimers explored

In a study on mouse populations conducted at the San Diego School of Medicine, University of California, repeated chronic stress may trigger the production of neurofibrillary tangles, one of the physiological markers of Alzheimers disease.

Numerous research studies have reported the link between chronic stress and dementia. This study explores possible reasons for why stressed people are more likely to develop sporadic Alzheimer’s disease the type of Alzheimer’s that 95 percent of the population are diagnosed with.

The research examined the effect of repeated emotional stress on the brains of mice, the stress was said to be equivalent to the ordinary symptoms of stress experienced daily in people. The effect of the stress included the phosphorylation and changes in the solubility of tau proteins in neurons in the brain. These changes are believed to be critical in the development of neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) pathology in Alzheimer’s.

The greatest impact of the emotional stress was seen in the part of the brain called the hippocampus. This area is linked to the generation, collaboration and storage of memories. Changes in memory processes are reported to be characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mindfulness meditation, acupuncture and relaxation techniques such as yoga, art and tai chi have all been linked to the reduction of stress and could therefore be used to protect against its destructive effects on memory and general health and wellbeing .

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