A shortage of a brain chemical that helps regulate sleep, mood, appetite and other functions may be the cause of Alzheimer’s disease!
The chemical, a neurotransmitter called serotonin, has been linked to Alzheimer’s after studies found low levels of the substance corresponded with high levels of amyloid plaque — a protein associated with the disease.
Research carried out by Gwenn Smith, a psychiatry professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, examined the levels of serotonin in the brains of 56 participants.
Using positron emission tomography (PET) scans, Smith and colleagues looked at 28 patients with symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 28 healthy adults.
Scans found participants with MCI had up to 38 percent less serotonin than healthy participants of the same age. The findings suggest the brain chemical may drive the illness rather than simply being its by-product.
“We suspect that increasing serotonin function in the brain could prevent memory loss from getting worse and slow disease progression,” said Smith.