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New discoveries on the causes of Alzheimer's disease indicate a particular gene – Medical News Bulletin

Causes of Alzheimer's disease

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A recent study published in Nature Neuroscience examined the role of TREM2 gene in the causes of Alzheimer's disease and how this gene can be used for the development of treatments.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia and affects about 70% of people with dementia. It is a progressive and chronic disease that damages the brain, affecting the memory, thinking and behavior of the individual.

A recent study found that a mutation within a gene, called TREM2, is linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Scientists from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich studied this link to determine why TREM2 it is so vital to healthy brain function. They published their results in Nature Neuroscience.

TREM2 can be a critical target for new therapies

TREM2 activates specialized immune cells, called microglial cells. These specialized cells serve the brain by eliminating toxic substances. It is these toxic substances, often referred to as plaques, that are found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease.

So, TREM2 can be a critical target for new therapeutic approaches for Alzheimer's disease. The scientists of this study decided to explore this therapeutic option by studying the development of the disease in mice with and without the TREM2 gene. The results of the study showed that mice with a healthy TREM2 gene produced microglial cells that were able to surround small plates and prevent their growth and spread. On the other hand, the mice without the TREM2 gene produced microglial cells that were unable to perform this action on small plates. The scientists of this study, therefore, highlight the therapy that can be activated TREM2 during the early stages of disease progression it may be able to help prevent beta-amyloid-toxic protein aggregates.

Further research needed to determine the effects of TREM2 in the later stages of Alzheimer's disease

This is an important result of this study that needs to be highlighted and considered when going on with this research; the results showed that TREM2 inhibits plaque formation during the early stages of the disease, but may have the opposite effect during the later stages of the disease. TREM2 during the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease it stimulates the production of ApoE, which increases plaque formation.

Further research on TREM2 is justified as it provides hope for a potential new therapy that may inhibit plaque formation. However, this research must proceed with caution as it could cause these plaques to grow faster during the advanced stages of the disease.

Written by Jade Marie Evans, MPharm, Medical Writer


  1. Parhizkar, S et al. 2019. The loss of TREM2 function increases amyloid seeding but reduces the ApoE associated with plaque. [Online]. [13 February 2019]. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-018-0296-9
  2. Eurekalert. 2019. Defective immune cells in the brain cause Alzheimer's disease. [Online]. [13 February 2019]. Available from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-01/d-gc-dic010819.php
  3. Dementia, australia 2019. Alzheimer's disease. [Online]. [13 February 2019]. Available from: https://www.dementia.org.au/about-dementia/types-of-dementia/alzheimers-disease

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