Part of the problem in developing a cure for Alzheimer’s disease is the fact that there is so much about it that scientists don’t fully understand.
Nobody knows precisely how and why Alzheimer gets triggered in the brain.
A new study suggests that chronic stress may play a considerable role in the development process of the disease.
The research analyzed the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis), which links two regions of the human brain with their corresponding glands above the kidneys.
The HPA axis controls a range of biological processes and helps temper a person’s reaction to stress.
A review of previous studies helped researchers determine how chronic stress is incrementally linked with the disease, hinting that a proper management of stress levels during a person’s early life may decrease the amount of developing neurodegenerative diseases later on.
David Groth, a molecular geneticist from Curtin University in Australia, said:
“What we know is that chronic stress does affect many biological pathways within our body. There is an intimate interplay between exposure to chronic stress and pathways influencing the body’s reaction to such stress.”
Part of the purpose of the HPA axis is to regulate the release of cortisol, an essential hormone for the body’s wellbeing.
The more a person stresses, the more cortisol gets released.
Cortisol is part of a class of hormones called glucocorticoid hormones, and it increases blood sugar and suppresses the immune system.
A disruption in the HPA axis and follow-up spikes in cortisol levels are often detectable in Alzheimer’s cases.
In the new study, the researchers discovered that genetic factors are implied in the process and that the signs of the disease can begin manifesting many years in advance, which may provide scientists a valuable shot at stopping or limiting the disease’s development.